Babysitter cleared in death of Ginny Hughes

Alicia Stepp in bond court (File photo/WCIV)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) --{} A judge dismissed the case Thursday against a babysitter accused of homicide by child abuse.

Magistrate James Gosnill says the prosecutor failed to show Alicia Stepp committed child abuse.

"This case is difficult from a great deal of perspectives," he said.

Stepp, 18, was charged in October, following a coroner's inquest into 2-year-old Ginny Hughes' death.{} Stepp was babysitting the girl when she found her unresponsive in July. Ginny died two days later at the hospital.

Stepp was not present at the preliminary hearing. Her attorney, David Aylor, argued that there was no substance to the charge. He said out of the nine doctors that testified at the inquest, not one was 100 percent certain that the death was caused by abuse or by his client.

"She was there at the time that 911 was called. No doctors stated it was instantaneous and the child had been abused in the last 20 minutes and would die thereafter," he said. "The child would die in two more days, and the doctor stated who saw the child through testimony that the blood on the brain could have come from days before."

Assistant Solicitor Larry Todd argued that medical doctor's were able to rule out other factors and were only left with inflicted trauma to cause death.

"They did thousands and thousands of (tests) to determine what cause was; there was no cause," he said. "This was a perfectly healthy child that ends up not being able to breathe. This had to have been some sort of trauma. There is no medical reason for this to happen."

Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten was the only one to testify for the prosecution. She answered questions about the doctors' findings. Wooten could not recall some of the inquest testimonies when asked by Aylor.

After the hearing, Aylor said he and his client feel relieved but understands the solicitor's office could bring new charges.

"It is now where it needs to be in the hands of the solicitor's office. Whatever they do, we will move forward with that," he said.

Wooten said her inquest served its purpose and was done according to law. She said it was a useful tool to get all the facts that investigators could not do.

"At the end of the day the judge ruled, but I think the inquest shared some valuable information in regards to Ginny's Death," she said.

All of Stepp's bond conditions have been dropped.