Detrick gives no reason for killing Stepro
A Corydon man explained to the court how he came to be riding with a man he shot and killed, but he could not give a reason why he committed the murder.
As part of a plea agreement, Dominic L. Detrick, 20, testified Thursday morning in Harrison Superior Court about what led to the death of 59-year-old Carlton R. (Grizz) Stepro of Corydon early on the morning of Aug. 4, 2000.
In return for his plea of guilty to murder, Detrick was sentenced to the Indiana Dept. of Corrections for 55 years rather than possibly face life in prison without parole, which the prosecutor’s office had initially requested.
With the courtroom about half-full of the victim’s relatives, Detrick took the stand to provide a “full and complete account of the killing” of Stepro and to answer questions. He wore a black and white jail-issued uniform with a white thermal undershirt underneath.
Detrick told how the day before the murder he had gone to Stepro’s apartment in the Harrison House to collect $30 Stepro allegedly owed him for doing some work. He said Stepro, an acquaintance through Detrick’s brother, who also lived in the Harrison House, would not come to the door.
That night, Detrick said he “partied on ‘shrooms,” mushrooms, which can be deadly and grow on cow manure and produce a “high” when eaten.
After staying up all night, Detrick walked several blocks from an apartment on East Walnut Street to the Harrison House on Oak Street, arriving in time to catch Stepro before he left for his job at Golden Foods in Louisville.
Detrick said Stepro agreed to pay him the $30 “and then some” if he would help unload trash that was in the back of Stepro’s pickup.
The two men left together in the truck. As Stepro pulled from S.R. 135 onto eastbound Interstate 64, Detrick said he told Stepro to pull over.
Stepro complied. Detrick said he reached into his jacket pocket, pulled out a 9mm handgun that he knew was loaded, put the gun to Stepro’s head and pulled the trigger. Detrick then got out of the truck, went to the driver’s side, took Stepro’s two wallets and climbed the hillside back to S.R. 135.
Detrick later testified that he hid the gun in some rocks before reaching S.R. 135. He was arrested two days later at his mother’s home in Troy, Ohio.
Jerry Stepro, nephew of the deceased, was pulling on I-64 just after 6 a.m. when he saw the stopped pickup. He told the court that he thought it was his uncle’s vehicle, so he pulled over and backed up to the truck, which was still running with its headlights on, to see if his uncle needed help.
“You hurt a lot of families … ” the nephew told Detrick. “I hope you live in hell every day.”
The nephew said he has to drive by the site of the shooting every day on his way to work.
Judge Roger D. Davis asked Detrick if he had committed the crime in self-defense or if he could possibly have been “somewhat high” from the previous night that would have prevented him from knowing what he was doing.
Detrick answered that neither was true. He told the court he carried the handgun with him most of the time and it was always loaded.
“You intended for him to die?” Davis asked.
“Yes,” Detrick replied.
“There’s nothing you can point to to explain … Is that true?” Davis asked.
Again, Detrick said, “Yes.”
Davis reluctantly accepted the plea agreement.
“It would be easy to conclude, and the court does conclude, that on that day (Aug. 4, 2000) Carlton Stepro’s life meant nothing to you,” he said to Detrick. Stepro “was perhaps an imperfect man, but in the eyes of the law, his life is just as valuable as any other. He had the courage that many do not have to serve his country.”
The judge also told Detrick that “the family will be tortured and tormented all their days because of your actions.”
Detrick had earlier told the judge, “There’s no excuse for what was done.”
When given the opportunity to address Stepro’s family, Detrick said, ” … I do have remorse.”
He told them, though, that as a child he was taught to not show remorse.
“I wish I could ease the pain in your hearts,” he said before being allowed to return to his seat.
Detrick, who will receive credit for time served since his arrest on Aug. 6, 2000, went with police detectives Thursday afternoon to show where he had hidden the gun. They have not been able to locate the murder weapon.