Two convicted in conjunction with Stepko murder face sentencing next month

May 24, 2013
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Diane McClelland
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David James McClelland
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Barbara S. Miller / Observer-Reporter
Murder victim Evelyn Stepko’s name is on this stone in the Washington County Crime Victims Garden, next to the Family Court Center. Order a Print
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From left, David James McClelland and Diane McClelland.

They were convicted in separate jury trials on charges related to the homicide of their 92-year-old neighbor, Evelyn Stepko, but a former part-time policeman and his stepmother are to be sentenced at the same proceeding next month in Washington County Court.

David J. McClelland, 38, who worked for the Monongahela and Washington Township police departments, and Diane McClelland, 50, both of Coal Center, are scheduled for sentencing at 3 p.m. June 6, by Judge John DiSalle.

Stepko, a widow, was known to keep large amounts of cash in her Granville home, where she lived alone and without basic amenities such as indoor plumbing. She was found dead July 11 of stab wounds, lying in the basement of her home. A police search turned up $85,000 in older bills, most of it hidden.

Bringing the two defendants, both of whom are incarcerated, to court for a single hearing means that Stepko’s survivors will have to endure only one potentially emotionally wrenching court appearance. They will have an opportunity to address the court in what are known as “victim impact statements.”

Diane McClelland was convicted March 1 of receiving stolen property and conspiracy to commit homicide, burglary, dealing in the proceeds of unlawful activity, robbery, burglary and theft. She faces a maximum sentence of 37 to 74 years in prison.

There will be no suspense over the sentence for David J. McClelland, because his second-degree murder conviction carries mandatory life imprisonment. A jury also convicted him of receiving stolen property, dealing in unlawful proceeds of criminal activity and conspiracy.

In the legal system, however, sentencings trigger the appeals process.

During their trials, the prosecution through a time line wove a pattern of break-ins at Stepko’s home with deposits of cash into the bank account of David A. and Diane McClelland, plus spending sprees on firearms, tools, vehicles, real estate and a lawn tractor. The McClellands also gambled at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino.

Diane McClelland worked as a supermarket clerk, and her husband received disability benefits. At her trial, she did not present evidence of legitimate income to explain the purchases.

D.J. McClelland’s father, David A. McClelland, a prisoner at the State Correctional Institution-Greene County, pleaded guilty in October 2012 to first-degree murder and was sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment. Police found his fingerprint and DNA evidence on a latex glove in a bucket inside the home of Stepko, for whom he did yard work.

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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