A young Birmingham man was acquitted yesterday after facing trial for fatally shooting a man nearly two years ago.
Stacy Gordon Jr., now 22, was charged with three counts of capital murder for the November 2017 slaying of 53-year-old Michael Shane Stepp. When Birmingham police arrived on the scene in the 2600 block of Seventh Avenue South early that morning, they found Stepp in the roadway. He was pronounced dead at 1:55 a.m. from an apparent gunshot wound.
Jurors found Gordon not guilty on all counts Thursday.
“It was a pleasure for my team and I to represent Mr. Gordon. He did what any courageous person would do in his situation,” said Gordon’s attorney Victor Revill. “He chose to not be another victim of Michael Shane Stepp. In doing so, he has saved countless young men from further assault. We are glad that his actions of self-defense have finally been vindicated by a jury of his peers.”
Revill argued at a hearing last year that Stepp was a child predator who made sexual advances towards Gordon before the fatal shooting. Gordon argued a Stand Your Ground defense, saying Gordon and Stepp were in the car together and when Stepp pulled over, he started reaching for something that Gordon believed it to be a weapon.
In 2006, Alabama adopted Stand Your Ground provisions to its self-defense law, eliminating the duty to retreat from situations as long as the person defending themselves is not doing something unlawful. Legislators also added a provision that says a person who is justified using force, including deadly physical force, “is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the force was determined to be unlawful.”
On the night of the shooting, Revill said, Stepp was driving and approached Gordon– who was on foot– three times. Stepp kept asking Gordon if he needed help and gave Gordon his phone number. When Stepp later approached and saw Gordon still walking, he asked Gordon if he needed a ride home. Thinking Stepp was a good Samaritan, Revill said Gordon accepted the ride.
When Gordon got in the car, he noticed Stepp was driving in the opposite direction of his east Birmingham home. He asked Stepp to pull over repeatedly, but Stepp refused and said he was going to take Gordon somewhere to have sex, Revill said.
Revill said Gordon tried to make Stepp pull over. When Stepp acted like he was pulling over, he reached for something Gordon believed to be a weapon. Then, Gordon fired his gun. “He was in fear for his life,” Revill said last year. “Had he not defended himself, he may not be here today.”
At a September 2018 hearing, retired police lieutenant from Mobile police and the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office Dennis Robertson testified about an investigation he conducted in 1987 and 1988 into a “predator sex ring” that Stepp was involved with.
According to Robertson’s testimony, Stepp and five other adult men were part of a group that would “perpetrate deviant sexual acts” against underage children. Robertson said Stepp’s role in the sex ring was to go into the community and lure teenage boys into his car with the promise of alcohol, drugs, and/or money. Once he lured the teens in the car, he drove them to a house in west Mobile where the group of men would provide whatever Stepp promised the teens in exchange for sexual acts. Some of the sex ring victims were younger than 16, and the oldest victims were 18 or 19, he said.
Six victims eventually came forward in the investigation and testified against the adult men, and the six men were charged with a total of 16 counts of sodomy. After his indictment, Stepp pleaded guilty to two counts of sodomy against a 15-year-old boy.
Robertson said Stepp was known in the sex ring as being a “sexual predator,” but police weren’t aware of any physical violence between Stepp and the victims. While Stepp was only charged with abusing one victim, Robertson said he believes there were other victims and that the sex ring had been operating for over a decade before his investigation.