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Bellingham ex-coach admitted to murder, but victim’s sister wanted a tougher sentence

Former 41 Sports Fitness Boot Camps owner Anthony McClanahan works out with one of his morning classes as part of 41 Sports Fitness Boot Camps at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, July 15, 2009. The former professional football player, who ran youth football camps and was an assistant coach at Sehome, pleaded guilty last month in the 2017 murder of his wife in Park City, Utah.
Former 41 Sports Fitness Boot Camps owner Anthony McClanahan works out with one of his morning classes as part of 41 Sports Fitness Boot Camps at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, July 15, 2009. The former professional football player, who ran youth football camps and was an assistant coach at Sehome, pleaded guilty last month in the 2017 murder of his wife in Park City, Utah. The Bellingham Herald staff

A former Bellingham football and fitness coach was sentenced Monday to 15 years to life in prison for the 2017 stabbing death of this wife, also formerly of Bellingham, according to media reports from Utah, where the crime occurred.

Under a March plea deal with prosecutors in Park City, Utah, Anthony D. McClanahan admitted to killing his wife, Keri “KC” McClanahan, in exchange for a reduced sentence, according to published reports from KSTU-TV and the Salt Lake Tribune and Park Record newspapers.

Keri’s sister, Heather Gauf of Bellingham, said Monday that she hoped for a tougher sentence when she spoke at Monday’s sentencing hearing before Judge Patrick Corum in Summit County Third District Court.

“I’m a little bit relieved, but nothing brings back our sister,” Gauf told The Bellingham Herald after the sentencing hearing. “I’m hoping that’s the last time I’ll have to see that man.”

Gauf said five of KC’s seven brothers and sisters spoke in court as as part of a victim advocate program.

“For me, I really wanted to tell KC’s side of the story,” Gauf told The Herald, describing a pattern of domestic violence against her sister.

It was a “brutal and horrific” crime committed by a “violent and controlling” man, she said.

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Keri “KC” McClanahan (formerly Gauf), left, poses with her sister Heather Gauf in January of 2017 on Galbraith Mountain. Anthony McClanahan pleaded guilty last month to murdering KC in Utah in November of 2017.

Gauf said prosecutors assured her that McClanahan, 47, will serve the minimum 15 years before he’s even considered for parole, and likely will serve the maximum sentence.

McClanahan was the only suspect in the Nov. 2, 2017, murder of his wife, according to published reports, and police said she had been stabbed in the throat.

Gauf told The Bellingham Herald that her sister, who was 28, was planning a divorce at the time.

KC had two children from a previous marriage and was set to enlist in the U.S. Air Force after volunteering to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and Texas, Gauf said.

“She was such an amazing mother and such a beautiful humanitarian,” Gauf told The Herald.

McClanahan, who was from Bakersfield, Calif., played football at Washington State and signed briefly with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys but never played a game, according to published reports. He played four years in the Canadian Football League.

In Bellingham, McClanahan was an assistant coach at Sehome High School and operated youth football camps and owned a fitness boot camp.

Gauf said she hopes her sister’s murder can help future victims of domestic violence.

“I hope it helps other people who are in a situation like this — especially if it can save a life,” Gauf told The Herald.

Robert Mittendorf covers civic issues, weather, traffic and how people are coping with the high cost of housing for The Bellingham Herald. A journalist since 1984, he’s also a volunteer firefighter for South Whatcom Fire Authority.
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