• Coal Center murder trial: Son admits to knowing he spent stolen money, but did not commit murder


    The attorney for a former police officer charged with helping to plan the killing of an elderly Coal Center neighbor said jurors may condemn his client for accepting stolen money, but he didn't conspire to commit murder.

    The trial continued Friday in Washington County for 37-year-old David James McClelland. His father, David Allen McClelland, pleaded guilty to stabbing 92-year-old Evelyn Stepko to death at her Coal Center home in July 2011. The defendant's stepmother, Diane McClelland, was convicted of conspiracy.

    Prosecutors said the father stole about $215,000 over a two-year span, and other relatives helped spend the money.

    The trial continued Friday with jurors hearing from McClelland Jr. for the first time, listening to portions of a 2 ½ hour-long videotaped statement to police after his father was arrested for killing Stepko.

    Officers said they questioned McClelland Jr. repeatedly and caught him in lie after lie about how much stolen money he accepted and about how much he knew about the burglaries.

    “I confronted him in February of this year about where the money was coming from, and he admitted to me that he was stealing it from Miss Evelyn,” McClelland Jr. said.

    Prosecutors allege that the McClelland Jr. accepted more than $50,000 in stolen cash.

    Prosecutors said the McClelland family stole from their neighbor for years to live a lavish lifestyle full of new cars, guns and gambling.

    McClelland Jr. told police that his father deserves the death penalty.

    “He should get the punishment that deserves the crime. He should get the death penalty,” said McClelland Jr. “Absolutely, that’s hard to say.”

    Court resumes on Monday morning with McClelland Jr. expected to take the stand again.

    McClelland Jr.’s defense attorney said the only charge his client should face is receiving stolen money, not murder.

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