Samuel Steplight was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Friday for what Superior Court Judge Michael Annis called the “horrible, horrible crime” of killing Norma Jean Mobley.
Steplight was convicted of felony murder after a three-day trial in early October at which the jury heard testimony about the events of Nov. 3, 2010. Mobley, 52, was stabbed at least 15 times in her apartment in Cherry Tree Crossing by Steplight, who grabbed a second knife after the blade of the first one bent on her chestbone.
The prosecution emphasized at trial that Mobley was partially paralyzed by a stroke and couldn’t open jars or hang up her clothes, much less defend herself. Steplight’s attorney, David Brunk, painted his client as a man who flew into a rage after his ex-girlfriend taunted him about her new boyfriend. The jury acquitted Steplight of malice murder, but convicted him of felony murder.
“The only thing we can do is warehouse him so he’s no longer a threat to the members of the community,” Assistant District Attorney John Markwalter said Friday in asking for the maximum sentence.
Steplight apologized for his actions on Friday and Brunk made a plea for mercy. But any indecision by Annis was removed when Markwalter handed him the crime scene photos from the trial.
“The fact she was so helpless is what I can’t get beyond,” Annis said, shuffling through the photos. “She had all kinds of defensive wounds ... even on the hand she had no use of.”
Erasmus Mobley asked the judge to consider that his mother was a real person, not just a name. He described her as a “social butterfly” who was beloved by everyone in her neighborhood and community.
Annis concluded that if Steplight had shown some restraint, “that family would not have lost their mother.”