By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
A Casper man sentenced to life in prison for murdering his mother was improperly sentenced to another 10 to 15 years in the burglary that led to the killing, Wyoming’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
Justices ruled the district court that sentenced Andrew Wayne Steplock improperly sentenced him on convictions of both felony murder and burglary in violation of previous court rulings.
“We have previously held that ‘the imposition of multiple punishments for felony murder and the underlying felony violates the double jeopardy clauses of the United States and Wyoming constitutions,’” said the ruling written by Justice Kari Gray. “As a result, sentencing Mr. Steplock to 10 to 15 years on the underlying felony — aggravated burglary — for first-degree felony murder was improper.”
According to the ruling, in February 2019, Steplock broke into the home of his parents to steal money. When he was confronted by his mother, he shot her.
Steplock confessed to the incident after his arrest near Denver.
Steplock was charged with second-degree murder, aggravated burglary and felony murder. Felony murder is a charge that is leveled when a person is killed in the course of the commission of a felony — such as a burglary.
For purposes of prosecution and sentencing, it is considered the same as a charge of first-degree murder.
Steplock was sentenced to life in prison for felony murder, 55 years to life for second-degree murder and 10 to 15 years for aggravated burglary.
But justices said a person can’t be sentenced for both felony murder and the crime that led up to the murder.
As a result, the district court in Natrona County was ordered to adjust Steplock’s sentence.