Attorney: Case closed against babysitter in child's death
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The case against an 18-year-old babysitter accused of homicide by child abuse last year has been closed, according to her attorney.
David Aylor released a statement Wednesday saying he was notified that the case had been closed.
"This case was more about a rush to judgment and the failure of criminal due process by Coroner Rae Wooten. Alicia did not have the benefit of an attorney during the coroner's inquest nor was there a criminal prosecutor present ensuring the state's laws were followed. In this case, Ms. Wooten played prosecutor, police investigator and judge," Aylor said.
Stepp was charged in October in the July death of 2-year-old Ginny Hughes after a 12-hour inquest. Wooten called for the inquest.
ON Wednesday, Wooten responded, saying the child's listed cause of death remains a homicide even though the court system had cleared Stepp of any charges.
"Just as the decedent has the right to a thorough investigation, the people have a right to know the facts. During an inquest, the facts are presented to the people in the form of a jury, and they consider the facts and render a verdict," she said in a statement.
"It is unfortunate that some attempt to discredit our jury system and we should be reminded that juries serve as the basis of our justice system," she added.
Hughes was found unresponsive on July 2 by Stepp. Hughes was on life-support for two days before she died on July 4. Medical officials say something traumatic must have happened to Hughes in order to stop the flow of oxygen to her brain.
Detectives say they believe Stepp smothered the 2-year-old girl.
During a bond hearing, Wooten stepped in to set Stepp's bail at $100,000, an amount that was later cut in half by a judge.
The charges were dropped against Stepp in November. Magistrate James Gosnill says the prosecutor failed to show Alicia Stepp committed child abuse.
"The real tragedy is that our systems repeatedly fail our most vulnerable, and Ginny Hughes is the real victim here," Wooten said.