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Death of 4-year-old boy in Las Vegas ruled homicide

The Clark County coroner’s office ruled the death of a 4-year-old boy a homicide Tuesday, about a month after prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty for the woman accused of torturing and killing him.

Brandon Steckler Jr., a nonverbal autistic boy, was found July 30 in an apartment in the 300 block of East Silverado Ranch Boulevard, after he had spent weeks in the care of 42-year-old Crystal Stephens. He died at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center the next day from multiple injuries and complications, the coroner’s office said Tuesday.

Prosecutors in March said they will seek the death penalty for Stephens, who faces charges of murder, first-degree kidnapping, sexual assault on a minor and 24 counts of child abuse, neglect or endangerment.

If convicted and sentenced to die, Stephens would be the only woman on death row in Nevada, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacqueline Bluth has said.

The prosecutor said in March that a medical examiner had not determined Brandon’s cause of death because he had suffered from so many injuries, including burns, multiple bruises and scars, 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.

Stephens’ trial is set for Feb. 25, according to District Court records.

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