CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The case against a 17-year-old babysitter accused of causing the death of a 2-year-old North Charleston girl has been closed with no charges, according to her attorney.
Alicia Stepp was charged with homicide by child abuse in October 2012 after a coroner's jury ruled her responsible for the July 4 death of Ginny Hughes. Her bond was initially set at $100,000, but later lowered to $50,000.
"I have been informed they have closed the case against Alicia," her attorney, David Aylor, said in a statement. "It is a tragedy that Alicia has had to endure these allegations for nearly a year."
Last November, Stepp was released from jail after a judge ruled there was not enough evidence to bring the case to trial.
According to Aylor, "this case was more about a rush to judgement and the failure of criminal due process by Coroner Rae Wooten."
In a statement from Wooten, the Charleston County coroner said the Coroner's Inquest to investigate Hughes' death was in accordance with South Carolina law.
"During an inquest the facts are presented to the people, in the form of a jury, and they consider the facts and render a verdict," said Wooten.
During the inquest on Oct. 5, doctors and paramedics testified that Hughes was found with a bite mark on her body and bruising around the mouth and forehead.
One doctor testified that Hughes was harmed by someone in a way that cut off oxygen to her system.
According to medical officials, Hughes started having unexplained seizures and brain trauma in April. She later died from a noxic brain injury, meaning a lack of oxygen to the brain.
Aylor says Stepp "did not have the benefit of an attorney during the coroner's inquest nor was there a criminal prosecutor present ensuring the state's laws were followed."
According to a North Charleston Police Department incident report, officers arrived at Hughes' home on Brossy Circle around 1 p.m. on July 2 to find the child lying on the floor, unresponsive.
Hughes, along with her 3-month-old and 3-year-old siblings, were being watched by Stepp, who told police she cared for them while their mother worked at Waffle House.
When asked about what happened, the babysitter said Hughes told her she was sleepy so she took her into the bedroom to lie down. About 20 minutes later, Stepp said she returned to check on Ginny, and discovered she was unresponsive, although she was still warm.
At that point, Stepp said she realized the toddler wasn't breathing, so she first called the child's mother, and then called 911.