Conspiracy conviction in elderly Washington County woman's death

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A Washington County woman has been convicted of conspiracy to commit homicide and other charges in the murder of an elderly neighbor for which her husband is serving a life sentence.

Jurors deliberated for less than three hours Friday before convicting a weeping Diane McClelland, 50, in the July 2011 slaying of 92-year-old Evelyn Stepko in Coal Center, Washington County.

Prosecutors alleged that Ms. McClelland conspired with her husband, David Allen McClelland, 57, in the robbery and slaying of the victim. She was also convicted of dealing in the proceeds of a crime, hindering apprehension or prosecution and receiving stolen property.

Defense attorney Brian Gorman argued that his client should only face the stolen property charge, and the commonwealth got the killer when her husband pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and other charges.

Mr. Gorman said his client "turned a blind eye" to her husband committing the burglaries, and perhaps should have tried to stop him, but "no matter how much you do not like Diane for what she did, that's not why you render a verdict."

"Failure to be a Good Samaritan is not a crime," Mr. Gorman said.

First Assistant District Attorney Mike Lucas said the two sides agreed on facts but disagreed over application of the law. He cited Diane McClelland's contradictory statements to state troopers.

"When someone lies and tells different stories, that's a window into their mind," Mr. Lucas said.

He said the defendant was in charge of the family finances and there was no legitimate source of the tens of thousands of dollars she was depositing or spending.

"That's not turning a blind eye, that's rolling in it, enjoying it," he said.

The defendant's stepson, 37-year-old David J. McClelland, is scheduled to stand trial next month in the case.

As she was led from the courtroom, Stepko's niece, Delores Sprowls, said, "That's two down, one to go."

"She deserves everything she gets," Ms. Sprowls said. "She was there with her husband and stepson. They should never have done that to Aunt Evelyn."



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