New trial sought in Stepko slaying case
A former Mon Valley police officer's attorney wants his client's April 9 murder conviction to be overturned.
In post-sentence motions, defense attorney Josh Camson claims information about David J. McClelland's profession should not have been part of the burglary and murder trial in Washington County Court.
McClelland, 28, – a former Washington Township and Monongahela officer – was convicted of second-degree murder and is serving a life prison sentence for the July 2011 death of Evelyn Stepko, 92, of California.
Washington County Judge John DiSalle has until Thursday to rule on motions, which were filed June 17.
If DiSalle does not rule this week, the motions would automatically be denied, Camson said.
If that happens, Camson would have 30 days to appeal to the state Superior Court.
Police found Stepko dead July 18, 2011, in the basement of her California home after neighbors hadn't seen her for several days. She died of two stab wounds to the neck and blunt-force trauma to the chest.
Three members of the McClelland family took more than $200,000 from Stepko from 2009 through the time of her death. Police investigating the murder found $82,000 in Stepko's home.
David J. McClelland's conviction came weeks after a Washington County jury found his stepmother, Diane McClelland, guilty of conspiracy to commit homicide, receiving stolen property, hindering apprehension or prosecution, dealing with proceeds of unlawful activities and criminal conspiracy.
DiSalle sentenced her to 24 1⁄2 to 49 years in prison.
David J. McClelland's father, David A. McClelland, 58, pleaded guilty last year 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 prison term without chance for parole for the murder conviction and up to 42 years on the other charges. By accepting the plea deal, he avoided a possible death penalty.
Camson is seeking a new trial, citing purported errors during the trial and insufficient evidence.
Camson questioned whether the prosecution presented sufficient evidence of a conspiracy or accomplice relationship between McClelland, his father and his stepmother.
“I don't believe the evidence of him being a police officer and his police oath of office should have been entered into evidence,” Camson said.
Camson objected to alleged statements by the victim before her death – and testified to by police and Stepko's neighbors.
The post-sentencing motion and likely appeal were foreshadowed on the day of David J. McClelland's conviction.
Before the verdict was read April 9, Camson leaned over and whispered to his client, “This is just the start of the fight.”
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.
- Belle Vernon Area education boss presents wish list to school board
- Power outage planned in Mon City, Fallowfield areas
- Monessen buys four heavy duty trucks
- BVA stadium upgrades OK’d
- Sulkosky settling in as new California borough manager
- Valley man faces trial in infant abuse case
- Venetia man charged after allegedly pointing pistol at slow driver in the fast lane
- North Belle Vernon man accused of ‘extraordinary, physical abuse’ of infant
- Rostraver police: Manor man’s disappearance ‘suspicious’
- Ringgold Rams Club offers helping hand to district programs
- Club to toast N. Charleroi ‘stars’ at annual banquet