I-Team: Woman could face death penalty in 4-year-old’s death

Local News

(WARNING: Video for this story is disturbing.)

Disturbing testimony in front a grand jury describes how a young child was killed.

Crystal Stephens is the accused murderer and the Clark County District Attorney is discussing the case against her.

Brandon Steckler’s mother testified in court she was living at a shelter, going through tough times and sent two of her kids to have a sleepover with her family friend. But her 4-year-old son, Brandon, was never returned to her alive.

The grand jury transcripts on the child’s death are graphic but show the nature of the murder case and what the little boy may have endured.

“I think what stands out is the number of injuries, the variety of injuries, and the brutality,” said Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson.

This was Brandon Steckler with his mother on July 4, 2018. Two days later, she says she left him with family friend, Crystal Stephens, who the mom claims refused to return him.

Three weeks later, Brandon was dead.

In February, Stephens was indicted on 27 charges including murder and sexual assault. The I-Team has obtained grand jury transcripts where a medical examiner testified pretty much every inch of this child had some type of injury.

The photos tell the story. Bruises, burns, injuries inside his mouth and on his arms, 27 rib fractures and trauma to his private parts. 

He suffered from malnutrition, sepsis, pneumonia, and even the drug methamphetamine was found in his system. Brandon’s autopsy took an extended period of time because of how badly he was hurt.

“I didn’t even know it was the same child. I was blown away,” said Jacqueline Bluth, chief deputy district attorney.

Investigators say they found drug residue and paraphernalia in the Las Vegas home where Stephens called police telling them Brandon had drowned. But police never found any evidence of drowning.

Next week, a committee will meet to discuss whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty against the 42-year-old woman.

“This is one of those cases where you have to wonder what goes through somebody’s mind that would cause them to inflict these kinds of injuries on a defenseless child,” Wolfson said.

It’s unclear whether Brandon’s mother called police to report that Stephens refused to return him. District Attorney Steve Wolfson says she’s already lost her child and he does not intend on charging her because he doesn’t believe she was aware Brandon was being harmed.

She also testified she learned Brandon was in the hospital via email from Child Protective Services.

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