Third member of family to face trial in widow’s slaying

Third member of family faces day in court over widow’s slaying

March 28, 2013
A Washington County sheriff’s deputy waits for David James McClelland to exit a vehicle Aug. 10, 2011, prior to a preliminary hearing. - Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Jury selection is scheduled for Monday in the case of David James McClelland, the third and final member of a family charged in connection with the murder-conspiracy of Evelyn Stepko, a 92-year-old widow who mistrusted banks and kept thousands of dollars in cash in her home in Coal Center.

McClelland, 27, who lived in the part of California Borough known as Granville, was a part-time police officer in Washington Township, Fayette County, until he was charged with criminal homicide, conspiracy, receiving stolen property, burglary, dealing in the proceeds of illegal activities and aiding in the consummation of a crime.

David J. McClelland has been incarcerated since his arrest a few weeks after Stepko was found dead July 18, 2011, in her home, of stab wounds.

His father, David Allan McClelland, who did yard work for Stepko, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in October. He is serving a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole.

A Washington County jury on March 1 convicted David J. McClelland’s stepmother, Diane McClelland, 50, of conspiracy with four components: homicide, burglary, dealing in the proceeds of unlawful activity and theft; and a separate count of receiving stolen property.

At her trial, the prosecution illustrated a money trail that dovetailed with burglaries at Stepko’s home between Aug. 4, 2009, and May 22, 2011, cash deposits Diane McClelland made in banks and purchases that ranged from real estate to a lawn tractor and a Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicle.

After Stepko’s death, police found more than $82,000 throughout her residence.

Diane McClelland was immediately taken to jail after her conviction and she faces from 34 to 74 years imprisonment.

First Assistant District Attorney Michael Lucas said Diane McClelland’s sentencing date has not been scheduled, but a judge typically imposes sentence within 90 days of a conviction.

David J. McClelland’s attorney of record is Joshua Camson, court-appointed conflicts counsel.

Washington County Judge Judge John DiSalle, who presided at the guilty plea of David Allan McClelland and the recent trial of Diane McClelland, will also handle the court proceedings of her stepson.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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