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DA cites riches in Coal Center homicide case

Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
Daveid J. McClelland of California is escorted out of the Washington County Courthouse by Deputy Sheriffs ,where he is on trail for the murder of Evelyn Stepko of Coal Center in July of 2011. On April 3,2013.

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By Chris Buckley and Paul Peirce
Friday, April 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Prosecutors outlined to a Washington County jury Thursday the largess David “D.J.” McClelland received from the life savings of a 92-year-old Coal Center woman who was murdered by his father in 2011.

McClelland, 38, a former part-time Washington Township policeman, is on trial for the murder of Evelyn Stepko. He is charged with dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, criminal conspiracy and receiving stolen property.

State police Trooper Charles Morton described photographs police took at the younger McClelland's home on School Street in California Borough following the July 2011 arrests of McClelland and his father, David A. McClelland, 58, of Coal Center.

First Assistant District Attorney Michael Lucas has told jurors that the elder McClelland, who was unemployed, and his wife, Diane, a grocery store clerk, paid a $10,000 cash deposit to purchase the home on School Street in 2010.

Another photograph Morton identified showed the younger McClelland's Pontiac G6, which his stepmother purchased with $14,000 cash in September 2010. Morton identified to jurors “several hundred dollars” that was inside the vehicle console when it was searched.

Prosecutors are attempting to prove that McClelland and his father repeatedly burglarized Stepko's modest home, where she kept large amounts of cash.

After her death, police discovered $82,000 in older bills stashed throughout the home. In court documents, police allege that the McClellands took more than $200,000 from Stepko between 2009 and 2011.

Trooper Matthew Gavrish testified he interviewed the younger McClelland on July 22, 2011, and “D.J.” admitted he had asked his father about the source of approximately $2,000 a month in older currency he was receiving from his father and stepmother.

“(D.J.) said he asked his father if he had anything to do with Evelyn's death, and his Dad said no,” Gavrish said.

But Gavrish said the younger McClelland admitted that he still accepted money after Stepko's death.

Morton described for jurors a new deck built at the younger McClelland's home, along with a new dog run, kennel and a storage shed. Morton testified the shed contained many “high-end” construction tools.

Police recovered from the home 18 handguns and eight long rifles, all recent purchases, Morton said. He testified the firearms are worth between $8,000 and $11,000.

Troopers discovered a $400 video camera in the shed that was used for hunting. In McClelland's bedroom, Morton said, troopers found a lot of old, musty-smelling currency that was printed in the 1950s.

Defense attorney Josh Camson has admitted to jurors that the younger McClelland took money from Stepko and knew about the burglaries, but denies McClelland was involved in her murder.

Camson said David J. McClelland will testify in his own defense.

David A. McClelland avoided the death penalty and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. He is serving a sentence of life in prison without the chance for parole.

Diane McClelland was convicted in a jury trial in March of conspiracy to commit homicide, hindering apprehension, receiving stolen property, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities and criminal conspiracy. She is awaiting sentencing.

The trial will resume this morning before Judge John DiSalle.

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