A 25-year-old Michigan man has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for fatally stabbing his young stepdaughter to death after the 5-year-old woke him from a nap to ask for food, PEOPLE confirms
Thomas McClellan was found guilty in July of first-degree murder, child abuse and arson in the November 2016 killing and burning of his stepdaughter, Luna Younger, in the family’s home in Holt, Michigan.
McClellan was sentenced in Michigan’s Ingham County Circuit Court on Wednesday, his attorney, Patrick Crowley, tells PEOPLE.
McClellan, who declined to speak at the hearing, was ordered to serve at least 18 years, concurrently, on his other charges.
“There exists a sadness like none we have ever known,” a spokeswoman for Luna family’s, Paula McKay, said in court on Wednesday, according to the Lansing State Journal. “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.”
She added: “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.”
To Luna’s killer, McKay said, “Tom, I forgive you and I pray for you. And I desire peace and hope for you.”
“This is tragic for his family as well as her family,” Crowley says of McClellan. “I have said throughout the course of this trial that this was a wicked act, just by a normal guy.”
According to court filings, McClellan stabbed Luna five times on Nov. 1, 2016 while her mother — his wife — was working.
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Soon after killing Luna, McClellan confessed to investigators that she was hungry and had roused her stepdad of three months from sleep to ask for something to eat, a court official, who saw the confession tape, previously confirmed to PEOPLE.
McClellan told her “it wasn’t dinner time” yet.
He tried ignoring the little girl’s request, but she persisted. “It tipped me over the edge,” McClellan told police, the court official said. “She gave me more attitude.”
McClellan said on the tape that he forced Luna to the floor and sat on her before stabbing her in the chest with a pocket knife.
He covered the girl’s body with blankets, which he then doused with vodka before setting the pile on fire, he told police.
“It’s not a normal, everyday kind of thing by a wicked guy,” Crowley contends of the murder, saying that McClellan is “not evil.”
Prosecutors could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
“For lack of a better term, he [McClellan] snapped,” Crowley says. “Something happened, and it was a very short incident. It probably took 10 or 15 seconds at most and the girl was dead. It’s a tragic occurrence for his family as well as obviously Ms. Younger’s.”