Breaking News: Casper Man Gets Life in Prison for Fatally Shooting Mother
Andrew Steplock, the Casper man convicted for murdering his mother inside her home last year, received a lifetime prison sentence during a sentencing hearing Tuesday in Natrona County District Court.
Steplock was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole on the first count, felony murder. He also received concurrent sentences of 55 years to life for second-degree murder, 10-15 years for aggravated burglary and three to five years for possession of a deadly weapon with unlawful intent.
In November, a Natrona County jury convicted Andrew Steplock of felony murder, second-degree murder, aggravated burglary and possession of a deadly weapon with unlawful intent.
Felony murder carries a minimum sentence of life imprisonment. At most, it's punishable by life imprisonment without the possibility of parole as Natrona County District Attorney Dan Itzen declined to seek the death penalty.
During Tuesday's sentencing hearing, Itzen asked Natrona County District Court Judge Daniel Forgey to sentence Steplock to life without the possibility of parole.
"Debbie Steplock's final moments were of fear and panic," Itzen said. Someone Debbie Steplock helped bring into the world was the same person who took her out of it, Itzen added.
Albert Steplock, Andrew Steplock's father and Deborah Steplock's husband, said Deborah Steplock would beg for the court's mercy.
"There's no way I can begin to forgive him for what he did," Albert Steplock said Tuesday. "From Debbie's standpoint, there's no way she could not."
Andrew Steplock's sister, Barbara Steplock, said Tuesday that the person who shot and killed her mother was not her brother. Seeing Andrew Steplock admit to killing their mother in an interview with police showed Barbara Steplock that the version of her brother she knew might still be there.
"He hates himself," Barbara Steplock said.
"We want him to honor her and change his life. Something good can come from this — something has to."
Joseph Cole, Andrew Steplock's defense attorney, called the shooting last year "an absolutely senseless crime."
Cole noted that Andrew Steplock does not have much of criminal history. Andrew Steplock said he was not aware his parents were home the night of the shooting, which flew in the face of common sense, Cole said.
Cole asked that Steplock receive the possibility of parole on the felony murder conviction and 20 to 50 years on the second-degree murder conviction.
If there were a case in which suspending a life sentence were possible or appropriate, this would be the one, Cole said.
Although a possibility in Andrew Steplock's case, the chances of him being granted parole are exceedingly minute. It would not come without input from the Natrona County District Attorney's Office, a nod from the state parole board and finally the governor's signature.
Following the shooting, Steplock pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental illness to the charges.
Attorneys in the case never disputed whether Andrew Steplock shot and killed Deborah Steplock in the early morning hours of Feb. 26, 2019. Instead, defense attorneys Cole and Joseph Hampton told jurors that Steplock saw and heard demons leading up to the shooting — and those demons told Andrew Steplock to kill his mother.
But one of the first witnesses to take the stand, a Wyoming State Hospital psychologist who evaluated Andrew Steplock after the shooting, testified that Andrew Steplock was mentally competent at the time of the murder.
Dr. Elizabeth Donegan testified that Andrew Steplock suffered from a personality disorder, but he was aware of reality when he killed his mother,
During his opening statements and again in his closing arguments, Itzen told jurors they'd gathered to hear about a cold February night.
Itzen described Andrew Steplock breaking into his parents' home. He walked into the kitchen and saw his mother standing there with her phone in her hand. Andrew Steplock knew that it was connected to a home security system.
Andrew Steplock shot his mother in the head from an extremely close range. The security alarm immediately sounded.
Deborah Steplock was taken to Wyoming Medical Center, where she was placed on life support until her organs could be harvested, per her wishes.
Deborah Steplock paid most of her son's bills. The morning before the shooting, she texted her son and threatened to cut him off. He'd apparently withdrawn money meant to pay bills and intended to use it for something else. They seemed to reconcile, however. At roughly 3:30 p.m. Feb. 25, she sent her son a text message saying she left groceries for him in his car. She planned to bring more over the next day.
Instead, shortly before 1 a.m. that night, Andrew Steplock shot his mother.
Deborah Steplock was 58.