A Michigan man who stabbed his 5-year-old stepdaughter to death and set her on fire was sentenced to life in prison by a Michigan judge without any possibility of parole.
Detroit Free Press reports that Thomas McClellan, 25, was convicted of first-degree child abuse, first-degree arson, and first degree for the Nov. 1, 2016, death of Luna Younger. The family had a chance to speak to McClellan directly in court on Wednesday, before he was shipped off to start his prison sentence.
— Lansing StateJournal (@LSJNews) July 18, 2017
“Tom, I forgive you and I pray for you,” said Paula McKay, spokesperson for Luna’s family. “And I desire peace and hope for you.
“There exists a sadness like none we have ever known. A sadness at the loss of so many hopes and dreams. Hopes for the future of you and Victoria. Hope for the future of a little girl — our lovely Luna. Hope for two mothers who saw their children happy and content in a new marriage. Hope for two families who had come together on a day not so far away in the past.”
Ingham County Circuit Judge Joyce Draganchuk offered McClellan the opportunity to respond, but McClellan stayed silent. The judge then took the opportunity to address McClellan directly.
“I understand how people sometimes who are not evil do evil things,” Draganchuk said before sentencing McClellan. “I think everyone sort of sees that as the picture that took place here. The tragedy is just unspeakable and the pain on all sides.”
“I think the whole community, beyond just the affected families, the whole community is asking ‘why, why?’ And the answer is, we need to leave ‘why’ behind because there is no ‘why,’ and it will only torture everyone trying to understand why,” the judge continued.
“Because what reason would possibly justify this, where we would say, ‘oh that’s an explanation of why?’ There is none. There is none, and we will only hurt ourselves by dwelling on the ‘why.'”
The Lansing State Journal reports that Thomas McClellan, of Holt, told detectives that he spent the day on November 1, 2016, arguing with the child’s mother, Victoria King, before taking a nap. At around 5 p.m., the little girl, identified as 5-year-old Luna Younger, knocked on McClellan’s bedroom door at the Old Orchard Apartments in Holt, and told him she was hungry. King, who married McClellan three months prior, was working.
McClellan told Detective Charles Buckland, of the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office, that there was no other motive to kill Luna, aside from the fact she bothered him for food while he was sleeping.
“I told her it wasn’t dinner time. It tipped me over the edge. She gave me more attitude.”
When the little girl pressed Holt to feed her, he grabbed her by the shoulder, threw her onto the floor, sat on top of her, pulled out pocket knife and stabbed her chest at least five times.
McClellan admitted that the little girl cried and coughed as he stabbed her, but that it ended quickly. Prosecutors said that McClellan then set the girl’s body on fire in an attempt to cover up the stabbings, after dousing her in vodka and wrapping her in a blanket and paper towels.
The flames quickly spread throughout McClellan’s apartment, prompting a visit from the Delhi Township fire department.
Firefighter Corey Drolett found Luna inside a closet, covered with a blanket. He transferred out of a window to another firefighter, who started CPR on the girl. Yet, it became apparent that she was already deceased and suffered numerous stab wounds.
McClellan, who left the apartment and checked into a local motel after he started the fire, later admitted to police that he killed Luna. He’s charged with first-degree murder, first-degree child abuse and first-degree arson. His attorneys argued that based on him admitting to the crime, he should be charged with second-degree murder instead of first.
Regardless, on Friday morning, Ingham County Circuit Judge Joyce Draganchuk found McClellan guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree child abuse and first-degree arson.
The first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory life without any parole possibilities. The state of Michigan does not have the death penalty.
[Feature Photo: Police Handout/Family Handout]