PEOPLE confirms with a court official that Thomas McClellan, of Holt, has been found guilty of murder at the end of his bench trial for killing and then burning the body of his stepdaughter, Luna Younger, who was 5.
The decision was announced Friday morning by Ingham County Circuit Judge Joyce Draganchuk, who also found McClellan guilty of child abuse and arson.
McClellan’s attorney, Patrick Crowley, could not be reached for comment.
According to court filings, Luna was killed on Nov. 1, 2016; McClellan stabbed the child at least five times while her mother, his wife Victoria King, was working.
According to a confession to police shortly after Luna’s death, McClellan said Luna was hungry and roused her stepdad of three months from sleep to ask for something to eat, the court official, who saw the confession tape, confirms. McClellan told her “it wasn’t dinner time” yet.
He tried brushing off the little girl, but she persisted. “It tipped me over the edge,” McClellan told police, the court official says. “She gave me more attitude.”
McClellan said on the tape he forced Luna to the floor, and sat on her before stabbing her in the chest with a pocket knife.
He was asked about Luna’s reaction to the attack, and he replied, “She cried, and she coughed. Not very long.”
McClellan said he covered the girl’s body with blankets he then doused with vodka before setting the pile on fire.
Luna’s body was recovered by firefighters who responded to his Holt apartment.
In rendering her verdict, Draganchuk said there was no explaining what McClellan did. “It is simply inexplicable,”she said, according to court officials.
McClellan will be sentenced on Aug. 23.