Accused in Kauffman death make first court appearances

On the day Marcus “Marco” Kauffman is to be buried, the four men facing felony charges in his death made their first court appearances.

Nearly three weeks ago, Kauffman, 25, was shot after he interrupted a break-in at his Chenault Road home in western Rowan County. He and his wife, Maryann, arrived home Dec. 2 to see two men there whose vehicle appeared to be broken down. Kauffman took his wife to a neighbor’s house and returned.

Kauffman approached the men and asked if they needed help. He was shot in the back of the head by one of them while inside his car. He struck a tree in a nearby corn field. Kauffman had been hospitalized since the shooting. His family maintained a Facebook page, “Praying for Marco” where they asked for prayers from the community. The family decided on Friday to remove Kauffman from life support after a test revealed there was no brain activity, a post said. He died shortly before 1 p.m.

Investigators upgraded the charges Friday on Khari Dewayne McClelland, 23, of Harmony, and Jaylend Daquann Turner, 19, of Statesville, who now both face first-degree murder. Both remain in the Rowan County Detention Center without bond.

Two others, Tramel Devon Hart, 18, and Michael Dwayne Teasley, 25, have been charged with accessory after the fact of first-degree murder. Hart and Teasley remain the Rowan County jail, each under a $1 million bond.

The four appeared via video feed from inside the jail and were then escorted back to their jail cells.

Hart appeared first and will continue to retain Landis Attorney Rick Locklear, who was appointed at a previous hearing. District Court Judge Bill Kluttz informed Hart he could face 19 years in prison if convicted. Hart asked the judge if he could receive a bond reduction. Kluttz told him he’d have to speak with his attorney.

Teasley could also face 19 years in prison if he is convicted. Teasley said he’d like to hire his own attorney.

Turner, who is charged with murder, could receive life in prison without parole or death. He was appointed Salisbury Attorney Carlyle Sherrill and is eligible to have an attorney appointed through the capital defender’s office. Turner asked if he could still hire his own attorney. The judge indicated that he could at the appointed time.

McClelland, who is also facing a murder charge, could also receive life in prison without parole or death. He will retain Salisbury Attorney John Basinger, who was appointed during a prior hearing. All four of the men are scheduled for a Jan. 15 probable cause hearing.

District Attorney Brandy Cook has not said at this point if she will be seeking the death penalty in this case.

Kauffman’s funeral, which will be open to the public, will be at 1 p.m. today at Mac Gray Auditorium at Statseville Senior High School. Family and friends will gather afterward for a private burial at Cleveland Believer’s Fellowship, where the Kauffmans attended.

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