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DA to seek death penalty for woman accused of torturing, killing 4-year-old boy

Updated March 14, 2019 - 5:37 pm

Prosecutors said Thursday that they will seek the death penalty for a 42-year-old woman accused of torturing and killing a 4-year-old boy.

Crystal Stephens faces more than two dozen charges in the death of Brandon Steckler Jr., who was found July 30 in an apartment in the 300 block of East Silverado Ranch Boulevard. The boy died in a hospital the next day.

Along with murder, Stephens faces one count of first-degree kidnapping, one count of sexual assault on a minor and 24 counts of child abuse, neglect or endangerment.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacqueline Bluth said her office’s committee that reviews potential death penalty cases approved capital punishment for Stephens on Thursday. If convicted and sentenced to die, Stephens would be the only woman on death row in Nevada.

Brandon had suffered so many injuries, the prosecutor said, that a medical examiner has yet to determine which caused his death. The boy had been under Stephens’ watch for more than three weeks before he was found, riddled with burns, bruises and other scars.

The nonverbal autistic boy had been burned from the top of his head to his toes, including burns inside his mouth, according to the prosecutor.

He also suffered broken ribs, a lacerated liver, a broken collarbone and a collapsed lung.

Stephens told police that she was watching Brandon and his sister for two weeks while Brandon’s mother was living in a domestic violence shelter.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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