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      Lawyer critical of coroner's inquest in Ginny Hughes case

      Ginny Hughes' home (Rebecca Lamb/WCIV)

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A Charleston attorney is questioning the validity of a recent coroner's inquest that led to charges being filed in the death of a 2-year-old.

      Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten held the inquest last week. A jury found Alicia Stepp responsible for the death of Ginny Hughes in July.

      Stepp was later arrested and charged with homicide by child abuse.

      In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, attorney David Aylor - who is representing Stepp - says he is "deeply concerned" about the inquest.

      Aylor said Wooten "played prosecutor, police investigator and judge."

      "When I was a prosecutor, we worked with trained law enforcement investigators and followed leads until we had all the facts of the case," said Aylor, a former criminal prosecutor with the Ninth Circuit Solicitors Office. "My client, Alicia Stepp did not have the benefit of legal counsel during the inquest, nor was there a criminal prosecutor present ensuring due process of the law."

      Coroner Rae Wooten issued the following statement:

      "The procedures followed for the inquest into Ginny Hughes' death is the procedure prescribed by state law and followed for well over 150 years, in South Carolina, and in the end the evidence was abundantly clear that the child's death occurred unlawfully at the hands of another person.{} The ultimate decision as to criminal liability is a determination to be made in a court of law also provided for by state law."

      Step is being held on $100,000 bond.

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