Paramedic: Something wasn't right

Joshua Stepp in court

August 23, 2011 9:55:16 AM PDT
One of the paramedics who responded to a Raleigh apartment in November of 2009 to help a dying 10-month-old infant told jurors Tuesday "something wasn't right."

The paramedic took the stand on the second day of testimony in the capital murder trial of the infant's stepfather, 28-year-old Josh Stepp.

The trial started with Stepp's attorney telling jurors that he was responsible for the death of 10-month-old Cheyenne Yarley. But, he claimed that the killing was not first-degree murder because Stepp suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder directly related to his status as an Iraq war combat veteran.

The attorney also said PTSD combined with self-medication with alcohol and painkillers contributed to Stepp's one-time abuse of his stepdaughter.

Stepp lied to police and paramedics saying the girl choked on toilet paper then fell off a couch, according to the attorney.

Christian Heinrich with Wake County Emergency Medical Services told jurors Tuesday morning that he knew the stories were lies when he saw the child's rug-burned face and a bruise in one ear.

"The burns and the bruising and that kind of stuff sort of, I mean, just set off my alarms basically that something wasn't right here," Heinrich said.

Stepp's attorney told jurors Monday that the former soldier was upset because the baby would not stop crying. He apparently lost his temper at one point and shoved the baby's face into the carpeting at the south Raleigh apartment where Stepp lived with his new wife, his stepdaughter, and his toddler daughter from a prior marriage.

Heinrich told jurors that only once did the little girl ever show signs of life.

"There was no breathing attempt on her part, um, but we did get the heart started back up," he said. "The pulse lasted for about two minutes then we lost the pulse again. That was the only time we ever saw any kind of change in her."

A WakeMed emergency pediatrician also took the stand. He said he noticed trauma to the infant's genitals - backing the prosecution's theory that Stepp also raped the infant.

Stepp's attorney said those injuries happened when Stepp angrily cleaned the girl when she twice soiled diapers after the assault.

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