Judge Finds Stepfather Guilty of First-Degree Murder for Violently Killing 5-Year-Old Stepdaughter

In 2016, tragedy struck a family in Michigan when a stepfather 'snapped' and brutally killed his 5-year-old stepdaughter. The man claimed he became furious when the little girl complained that she was hungry because it wasn't dinner time yet.

After the murder, he attempted to destroy the evidence of the crime and flee. His attorney argued he should be charged with second-degree murder, but the judge has found him guilty of first-degree murder.

Thomas McClellan was home caring for his 5-year-old stepdaughter, Luna, when his wife was at work. Luna complained of being hungry and interrupted McClellan when he was taking a nap.

In response, McClellan knocked the 40-pound child down to the ground and began repeatedly stabbing her in the chest with a knife.

After the child was dead, he wrapped the small body in a couple of blankets and brought it to the back of the house. He then lit the body on fire to destroy the evidence.

McClellan appeared to be planning to flee.

He showered, got a hotel room and withdrew a large sum of money from the bank. After he left the home the fire department arrived and found the child’s charred remains.

"It has a lasting effect on us," Brad Drury, Assistant Delhi Township Fire Chief. "I mean, you can't block it out. This is something we have to actually look at our crews, look at our personnel, and it's the same way with the sheriff's department. It's a traumatic event for not only the department, the family, but also the community as a whole."

A few hours later, McClellan thought better of fleeing and turned himself in to police.

"What was so awful about Luna today that you had to kill her," an officer asked while interrogating the stepfather. "I don't wanna guess something, Tom. I wanna hear it from you."

"I told her it wasn't dinner time," he responded.

McClellan said she had knocked on his bedroom door and woke him up. He tried to order the girl away, but she wouldn’t leave.

When he tried to nudge her toward the door he says she plopped on the floor and refused to comply.

"It tipped me over the edge," McClellan said. "She gave me more attitude."

McClellan opted for a bench trial instead of a trial by jury, and his defense attorney tried to argue that the charges should be second-degree murder because it was not a pre-meditated attack. He attempted to paint McClellan as a good father, with the exception of the murder.

He says McClellan regularly took care of the child, helped her with her homework, and had even fixed the door to her room earlier in the day before he killed her.

The prosecutor noted that McClellan had been arguing with Luna's mother all day before the woman left for work and that after the crime he behaved in a cool, calculated manner.

He didn't call 911 and didn't appear to panicky. She claims the stepfather had every opportunity to stop before he carried through with the violent attack.

The judge agreed with the prosecutor, and McClellan has been found guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree child abuse, and first-degree arson.

A first-degree murder charge carries a minimum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The abuse and arson charges each carry a life sentence as well, though the murder conviction ensured that McClellan will never walk free again.

Source: Fox 47
Photo: Dailystar, NY Dailynews, AWM

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