ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - It has been a year since a newlywed firefighter passed away in the hospital, surrounded by his wife and family.
Marcus Kauffman was shot in the head during a robbery at his home December 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.
He 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 very 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.
One year later life has changed dramatically for Maryann. In February, she gave birth to the couple's son, Landon.
“He's just such a gift from God because I see God in him. I feel God's love through just giving me Landon," Maryann told WBTV. "I love being a mom.”
Maryann and Landon also moved from Rowan County back to Georgia, where she was born and raised.
“I moved back to where I lived before I got married, which is in Georgia. I grew up there, my whole life was there, so I just went back to my home church and the support there is amazing," Kauffman added. “Familiar surroundings and familiar people have been very good for me.”
Jalend Daquan Turner, 19, and Khari Dewayne McClelland, 23, are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Marcus Kauffman.
Two other men, 18-year-old Tramel Devon Hart and 25-year-old Michael Dwayne Teasley, are charged with accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.
Earlier this year, Maryann pleaded with people on WBTV's Facebook page not to hate the men accused in his death.
"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins," she quoted from the Bible, Matthew 6:14-15.
"I don't see any exceptions in the bible depending on how terrible the sin is, or how much it hurts me," Maryann Kauffman posted online. "Jesus forgave me, I can forgive them. Thank you all for caring, but please don't feel hate towards them on our behalf. I don't want that, and Marcus wouldn't want that."
Maryann Kauffman spoke with WBTV's David Whisenant on Friday in a wide ranging interview covering her journey over the last year.
Landon was born two months after his father died, so Marcus never saw his son, but you can see a lot of Marcus in Landon, and a lot of faith in Maryann, who says her husband's death was not in vain.
"I love seeing what God is doing through it, that's a lot of what has carried me is seeing how God is using it and that it's not in vain," Kauffman said.
She is back in Rowan County this weekend with her parents to be with her in-laws to remember Marcus on the anniversary of his death, and it will be difficult.
"I don't even know what to say, for a long time after Marcus died I felt like it was hard to pray," Maryann said.
But she says through prayer she has grown, and learned to forgive, even the four men accused of killing her husband.
"When you've actually experienced God's forgiveness in your own life for the things you've done wrong, when it comes down to forgiving other people, how can you hold things against them when you have sinned so much and been forgiven so much, how can I not forgive them?" Kauffman asked. "I don't know their past, they've probably been through hard things themselves, and I know they did very wrong, but so did I, and God forgave me and I can't hold it against them."
The robbery and shooting, the death of her husband, and the birth of her son have become part of Maryann's story, and it's a place where grace abounds.