Khari McClelland sentenced to life in prison in killing of Marcus Kauffman

Published 5:38 pm Monday, July 11, 2016

By Shavonne Walker

SALISBURY — A man potentially facing the death penalty in the 2013 shooting death of firefighter Marcus Kauffman will spend the rest of his life behind bars. A judge sentenced 26-year-old Khari McClelland to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus time for related offenses.

On the morning of Dec. 2, 2013, Marcus, 25, who went by the nickname Marco, and his pregnant wife, Maryann, had just returned to their Chenault Road home, in the western part of the county,  after having had breakfast with his parents. The couple saw a blue car with the hood up near their home and believed the driver had mechanical problems.

The Kauffmans had their dog in their car and believing the driver of the disabled vehicle may have been afraid, they took the dog to a friend’s house, where Maryann also stayed. Marcus went back to the house to see if he could help.

Rowan investigators say McClelland shot Kauffman, who unknowingly interrupted a burglary at his home. Kauffman was shot in the back of the head with his own gun as he was driving away. His family removed him from life support a few weeks later.

Co-defendant Jaylend Turner also faces first-degree murder charges. His case remains pending. McClelland’s brother, Tramel Hart, was also charged in the case along with Michael Teasley, with accessory after the fact of first-degree murder.

Authorities said McClelland and Turner not only stole other items, but stole Kauffman’s gun and his laptop. The laptop was tracked to a Statesville home where investigators spoke with Teasley, who told them he bought the laptop from a man for $200.

Family members and friends of both Marcus and Maryann Kauffman as well as Khari McClelland were overcome with emotion and sobbed openly as Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook recounted the facts of the case.

David and Linda Kauffman, Marcus’ parents, both said they forgave McClelland.

“We realize you have family who will be separated from you as well. We realize this is difficult for them,” David Kauffman read from a statement.

“We miss him every day, but because of the love of Jesus Christ in our lives we look forward to seeing him again,” David said.

“We choose to forgive you,” he said.

Maryann, who has since remarried, stood with her husband, David, by her side and in a soft voice expressed her appreciation for the hard work of the investigators and district attorney’s office.

To McClelland, Maryann said she forgave him.

“I forgive you from the bottom of my heart. I’m not angry,” she said.

She hoped that he’d one day know Jesus and said she prayed that he would.

“It’s because of him I can say I truly forgive you,” Maryann said.

“I’m sorry. I mean that from the bottom of my heart,” McClelland said to the Kauffmans.

He asked for forgiveness for a senseless act that he said went too far.

See more in Tuesday’s paper.