Stepp, 28, entered a plea of no contest in Macon County Superior Court on Monday. The Franklin resident appeared before Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Bill Coward with three prior methamphetamine-related convictions in as many years (2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively).
“With those three prior felony convictions on his record, North Carolina’s habitual offender law kicked in, raising the level of punishment Stepp could receive under the state’s structured-sentencing law,” Welch said.
Being designated and convicted as habitual felon in North Carolina means defendants are sentenced to a felony class level four classes higher than the underlying felony convictions. Defendants cannot be sentenced at a higher level than a class C felony.
During sentencing, the judge noted Stepp had violated the terms of his parole. Coward activated that underlying sentence, ordering it to run concurrently with his sentence.
Stepp received credit for 149 days of pre-trial confinement. He must pay court costs and a lab fee.
On Aug. 16, 2019, Macon County deputies stopped a vehicle, because they suspected an insurance violation. Stepp was a passenger in the vehicle. To ensure officer safety, the deputies frisked Stepp. A small bag fell on the ground. The contents later tested positive as methamphetamine.
Assistant District Attorney Jason Arnold prosecuted the case.