A Casper man entered pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental illness Wednesday to prosecutors’ allegations he killed his mother in her own home earlier this year.
Andrew Steplock, 27, entered the pleas in Natrona County District Court to four charges: felony murder, second-degree murder, aggravated burglary and possession of a deadly weapon.
If convicted, he could spend life in prison without parole.
Steplock will receive a competency evaluation, which will put the case on hold until it’s completed. The parallel pleas mean that even if Steplock is found competent to faces the charges, the not guilty pleas will remain in effect while his case proceeds toward trial.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Steplock answered procedural questions in a hoarse voice. When Judge Daniel Forgey asked him if he’d like to enter the pleas as outlined by court-ordered defense attorney Joe Cole, Steplock answered in the affirmative.
“Yes, sir,” he said.
Attorneys told the judge they would request that Steplock be evaluated on an outpatient basis, rather than being seen in the Wyoming State Hospital. The judge said he would order a scheduling conference and attorneys said they had no more issues to be considered.
Steplock turned and whispered to Cole, who then told the judge he had another issue to consider.
The defense attorney asked Forgey to reduce Steplock’s bond to $250,000 and allow him to hire a bail bond agent. Cole acknowledged the serious nature of the charges but said the six-figure bond would be enough to ensure Steplock’s return to court.
District Attorney Dan Itzen argued Forgey should keep the bond requirement at $1 million cash-only. He noted Steplock is effectively homeless, unemployed and — according to police — fled the state to evade law enforcement.
Cole responded by saying that an arrest affidavit notes Steplock told police he was headed back to Wyoming when they caught up with him. Forgey nevertheless denied the defense request and kept the seven-figure cash bond requirement in place.
Deputies then led the defendant out of the courtroom.
Wyoming authorities in March extradited Steplock from Larimer County, Colorado, where prosecutors say he fled after shooting his mother in her home.
Police early Feb. 26 responded to an alarm call south of downtown Casper and found Deborah Steplock, the defendant’s 58-year-old mother, with a single gunshot wound to the head. When police arrived at the house, her husband was performing first aid on her. An ambulance transported her to Wyoming Medical Center.
By midday, hospital staff had declared her brain dead. She was kept on life support until Feb. 28 in order to arrange the donation of her organs, which had been her living wish.
According to court documents filed by prosecutors, Steplock told detectives he broke into his parents’ house to steal from them, and in the process he shot his mother.