Final suspect in killing of Rowan County firefighter pleads guilty

Jaylend Turner
Jaylend Turner

The fourth of four suspects charged in the robbery and shooting death of Rowan County firefighter Marcus Kauffman pleaded guilty in court Monday.

Jaylend Turner, 23, was charged with attempted first-degree murder, murder, felony breaking and entering, felony larceny and larceny of a firearm.

Turner was sentenced to between 13.33 and 17 years in prison, with credit for time served. He has been in jail since Dec. 6, 2013.

Marcus Kauffman was shot in the head during a robbery at his home on Chenault Road, in western Rowan County, on Dec. 2, 2013.

He and his wife, Maryann, were returning home from a Thanksgiving trip when they noticed a suspicious vehicle parked near their home that appeared to be broken-down. Marcus dropped his wife off at a friend's house and returned to offer assistance.

Kauffman returned to discover that the people at the car appeared to be removing items from his home, according to deputies. Those two men were later identified as Turner and Khari McClelland.

Kauffman called 911 to report the incident, but during the conversation told the dispatcher that shots were being fired before the call was lost. Kauffman was found in his car with a severe gunshot wound to the back of his head. The car had crashed into a tree.

He remained on life support for nearly three weeks after the shooting and died Dec. 20 at Carolinas Medical Center.

Four people were originally charged in connection with the case.

Tramel Devon Hart was originally charged with accessory after the fact, but earlier this month was sentenced to 6-17 months in prison after pleading guilty to a lesser charge. Hart received credit for the 1038 days he spent in jail awaiting trial, according to Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook.

Last month, suspect Michael Dwayne Teasley, 28, pleaded guilty to possession of stolen goods and was sentenced to six to 17 months in prison. Teasley had been charged with being an accessory after the fact of murder.

Teasley was given credit for the 817 days he has served in the Rowan County Detention Center awaiting trial. Teasley was released on bond in 2016.

McClelland, who was facing the death penalty, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison in 2016.

McClelland and Jaylend Turner stole Kauffman’s gun and laptop as well as other items, investigators have said. 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.