Casper Man Who Murdered Mother Loses Appeal
A Casper man convicted of murdering his mother in 2019 largely lost his appeal to Wyoming's high court.
Nearly three years after Andrew Steplock shot and killed his mother, Deborah Steplock, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled against Andrew Steplock on Wednesday.
A jury convicted Andrew Steplock of felony murder, second-degree murder, aggravated burglary and possession of a deadly weapon with unlawful intent in November 2019. Andrew Steplock was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole for the felony murder charge, 55 years to life for second-degree murder, 10-15 years for aggravated burglary and three to five years for the weapon charge.
Andrew Steplock never denied shooting and killing his mother. Instead, he pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness and claimed that demons told him to go through with the act.
Prior to his trial, Dr. Elizabeth Donegan, a licensed psychologist with the Wyoming State Hospital evaluated Andrew Steplock and determined that he was mentally competent at the time of the shooting.
According to Donegan's report, Andrew Steplock did not "lack substantial capacity, as a result of mental illness or deficiency, to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law at the time of the alleged offense."
Andrew Steplock did not get an additional evaluation.
In the hours before Andrew Steplock's trial was set to begin, he asked that the trial be delayed to undergo a second evaluation. Natrona County District Court Judge Daniel Forgey denied that request and the trial proceeded.
In his appeal, Andrew Steplock argued that Forgey abused the court's discretion in denying his request for a delay.
The supreme court disagreed with Andrew Steplock's argument and ruled that Forgey did not abuse the court's discretion.
Andrew Steplock also argued that his attorneys were ineffective in failing to secure a second psychological evaluation. He argued that had he received a second evaluation, the results of the trial would have likely been different.
Writing the supreme court's opinion, Justice Kari Gray notes Andrew Steplock never mentioned demons until he saw Donegan for his evaluation.
During the trial, Andrew Steplcok described a 9,000-year-old demon that convinced him to go to his parents' house and told him to shoot his mother, which he did.
"This is not the story he told in his police interview which was played for the jury," Gray writes. "He told the police that he went to his parents' house to steal money from the wine cellar. When he arrived, his front door key would not work so he broke in through the back door. When he saw his mother, he shot her. He made no mention of the blood god's army, demons or hallucinations on the day of the murder up to his evaluation by Dr. Donegan where he described these influences for the first time."
In a small victory for Andrew Steplock, the court ruled that Forgey handed down an incorrect sentence.
Andrew Steplock was charged with felony murder as he was in the commission of a felony when he shot and killed his mother. In this case, burglary. The court ruled that Andrew Steplock could not be sentenced for both the original felony and felony murder.
That likely won't matter as Andrew Steplock is serving a life sentence for felony murder.