Final Stepko slay trial starts this week
Before she went to trial last month, prosecutors offered Diane McClelland a plea bargain deal on conspiracy and other charges that would have carried a 10- to 20-year sentence.
She declined it, and a Washington County jury found the Coal Center woman guilty of all counts for her role in the murder of her 92-year-old neighbor in 2011.
She now faces 37 to 74 years in prison.
No such plea will be offered to her stepson, David J. McClelland, who goes on trial this week for the 2011 murder of Evelyn Stepko, Washington County Assistant District Attorney Mike Lucas said.
David J. McClelland will turn 28 on Wednesday.
Stepko, was found dead July 18, 2011, in the basement of her School Street, Coal Center, home. Police went there in search of Stepko after neighbors reported not seeing her for several days.
Stepko died of two stab wounds to the neck – one sliced her jugular vein – and of blunt-force trauma to the chest, which resulted in several broken ribs.
Prosecutors claim David J. McClelland and his father, David A. McClelland, burglarized Stepko's home several times in the years before her death.
She kept large amounts of cash in the Spartan house where she had lived all of her life, police said. Investigators said they found about $82,000 in Stepko's home.
David A. McClelland, 58, has already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, burglary, robbery (inflicting serious bodily injury), theft by unlawful taking, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities and three counts of conspiracy.
He is serving a life sentence without chance for parole for the murder conviction and up to 42 years on the other charges.
By accepting the plea deal, the elder McClelland avoided a possible death penalty.
David J. McClelland charged with criminal homicide, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, receiving stolen property, aiding in the consummation of a crime and three counts of conspiracy.
He was a part-time Washington Township police officer at the time of the murder.
Jury selection was to begin Monday for David J. McClelland's trial.
“We've been scheduled and everybody has been getting ready for trial,” Lucas said late last week.
Prosecutors decided previously not to seek the death penalty in David J. McClelland's case.
However if he is found guilty of second-degree murder, he would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without chance of parole.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- News was plentiful in pre-holiday rush of December 1957
- Ringgold agrees to stay under Pa. tax limit
- Barking dog gripe leads to historic Charleroi drug stash
- Charleroi council severs ties with Coyle
- Trial ordered for Finleyville man accused of fondling himself near school bus
- Keystone’s expansion to Greensburg going well
- Charleroi traffic stop spurs drug charges
- Charleroi Area student accused of bringing pellet gun to school
- Craft brewery opens in West Newton fire hall
- Perryopolis police officer dies in Route 51 crash
- Occupants flee after car crashes into house in Monessen