Crime

He wanted to keep a 19-year-old quiet, so he killed him and burned the body. Prison is next

Johsua Stepp, 30, was found guilty by a Tulare County jury of second-degree murder after a 19-year-old was killed and burned near Lindsday CA in 2012. Stepp faces 42 years to life in prison.
Johsua Stepp, 30, was found guilty by a Tulare County jury of second-degree murder after a 19-year-old was killed and burned near Lindsday CA in 2012. Stepp faces 42 years to life in prison.

A man who was involved in the killing and burning of a 19-year-old outside Lindsay was convicted by a jury Tuesday and now awaits sentencing for the crime.

Joshua Stepp, 30, was found guilty of second-degree murder with a special allegation of using a knife to commit the murder.

According to the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, Stepp was involved in the 2012 murder of a 19-year-old Michael Avalos, which stemmed from attempting to keep hush criminal evidence against Stepp’s friend.

Stepp believed Avalos held incriminating information against Eric Jimenez, a friend of Stepp’s who is on death row for robbing, killing and burning another man in 2012.

On Sept. 14, 2012, Avalos visited a friend’s house, and there Stepp stabbed him repeatedly. With help from Nathan Hunt, a friend of Stepp, Avalos’ body was taken to an orchard where he was burned inside a car just outside Lindsay.

Stepp fled to Missouri shortly after. Hunt was arrested the same day.

Hunt is expected to be sentenced in July for voluntary manslaughter related to Avalos’ death, and other crimes in 2014, according to the DA.

Stepp is scheduled to be sentenced July 24. He faces 42 years to life in prison.

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