$100,000 bond for babysitter charged with homicide by child abuse

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Alicia Stepp, the 17-year-old babysitter of 2-year-old Ginny Hughes, has been charged with homicide by child abuse.

After a 12 hour inquest, a Charleston County jury decided Stepp was responsible for the child's death.

Charleston County Coroner, Rae Wooten, revealed the verdict late Friday night and immediately filed an arrest warrant for Stepp. Stepp was taken into police custody after the hearing.

Wooten called for an inquest, which is much like a court hearing, in order to help her decide a cause of death.

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.

Stepp was the family's live-in babysitter and the first to call 9-1-1 when the toddler was discovered not breathing.

At Stepp's bond hearing Charleston County Corner Rae Wooten stepped in to set bond. Wooten charged Stepp with homicide by child abuse and set the bond at $100,000.

Wooten says under the law, it was her duty to set the bond. She says she cannot talk in detail about the case at this point but says the jury did their job.

"The responsibility was shared through the jury process. I think the jury worked very hard and very attentive and at the end of the day they brought back a verdict. That is justice for Ginny," said Wooten.

During the inquest, multiple witnesses were called including North Charleston detectives, who questioned Stepp at the time of Ginny Hughes death.

"Did you hurt Ginny?, she said no ma'am, not on purpose. I mean if I did on accident I don't remember. I explained to her that not having memory is not a defense," said Sgt. Tami Driggers, during Friday's inquest.

Wooten says as more information was uncovered it was clear to her the inquest was the right decision. She says it's her job to speak for those who no longer can.

"But when you add to that particularly vulnerable populations, small children, the elderly, people with special needs, they cant help me tell their story, but their story needs to be told on their behalf," said Wooten. {}

Stepp's family was at the bond hearing but declined to talk on camera.