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Boyfriend denied bail in infant murder case
Couple's arraignment set for Aug. 18
0715murder-stephen west
Stephen West

Hall Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller denied bail Thursday for a Gainesville man charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend's 18-month-old daughter Kaylee Kipp.

Stephen Clark West, 22, and Deanna Renee Kipp, 24, are accused of assaulting Kaylee Kipp with an unspecified "blunt object" sometime between June 11 and 12, causing swelling of the brain and death, according to court documents.

Fuller issued the ruling after a two-hour hearing that featured testimony from several witnesses, including West's best friend and his stepmother.

A bail hearing for Kipp was postponed Thursday. A new date hasn't been scheduled.

Court documents allege she also "willfully deprive(d) the child of necessary sustenance to the extent that the health and well-being of Kaylee Kipp was jeopardized by failing to seek medical care for the child after injury."

West and Kipp were indicted this month on charges of malice murder, aggravated assault, cruelty to a child in the first degree and two counts of felony murder.

Kipp also faces an additional count each of felony murder and cruelty to a child.

Both are being held at the Hall County jail on Barber Road.

West's lawyer, Lee Parks, had asked the judge to set bail, preferably, in the range of a $50,000 to $100,000 property bond, and place any pre-trial conditions he deemed necessary, including electronic monitoring of West's whereabouts.

He also said he believed West met conditions for bail, including longstanding ties to the community. Parks also cited West's record of regular employment.

The prosecutor, Chief Assistant District Attorney Lindsay
Burton, cited several concerns about his release, including a return to his former job as a sandwich shop delivery driver.

"That's not appropriate employment for somebody out on bond for murder," she said.

A key trouble spot for West turned out to be actions involving his childhood friend, Adam McDaniel, 21, of Clermont.

Testimony showed that the same day Kaylee's body was found, McDaniel called West and asked him if he wanted him to remove West's guns from his apartment.

McDaniel said West told him he was "concerned police would take them" and that the guns "had a lot of sentimental value to him." He added that West's late father had bequeathed the weapons to West.

Parks told the court he "didn't feel the actions of McDaniel created a basis for denying bond."

Fuller said West agreed to the removal knowing the guns "would be a point of interest in the (police) investigation of the death."

"To remove the guns would alter the scene," he said.

The judge said West may have given "a knee-jerk answer without thinking about the consequences. ... It is an obstruction of justice even though (he) may not have intended to be."

An Aug. 18 arraignment has been scheduled for the couple in Fuller's courtroom.

Parks called several witnesses who said they believed West would abide by pretrial requirements.

One of them, Jerry Dover, a Clermont resident who has known West for seven or eight years, threw his support behind West.

"He's a very good kid who never got into trouble, as far as I knew," he said. "... I know Stephen didn't do this."

The charges were filed against the couple after Gainesville police responded to a call of a 2-year-old not breathing at 12:30 p.m. June 12 at On Riverside Condominiums, according to the police report.

When police arrived, Kipp said the child was sleeping when she checked on her at 9 a.m. The next time she went downstairs, Kipp said she wasn't breathing.

By the time paramedics arrived, Kaylee's body was "cold to the touch" and stiff, according to the report.

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