UPDATE - Judge finds McClellan guilty on all charges

Published: Jul. 20, 2017 at 7:10 PM EDT
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UPDATE - Friday July 21, 2017

Judge Joyce Draganchuk has found Thomas McClellan guilty on all charges. He will be sentenced on August 23. News 10's Christopher Lane was in court for the sentencing and will have the full story tonight on News 10.


Prosecutors and the defense went back and forth at the end of Thomas McClellan's trial on Thursday, arguing about what charges judge Joyce Draganchuk should find him guilty of.

McClellan's attorney admits he committed murder, but he says it was second-degree murder because there was no premeditation, and he says child abuse is out of the equation.

"If there is a child sitting in front of me, and they're facing away from me," describes Patrick Crowley, McClellan's attorney in a hypothetical situation in his closing argument. "I walk up and I shoot them in the back of the head and I kill them instantly. Yes, I've clearly committed a killing, but have I committed a child abuse? Pursuant to Michigan law I have not."

His argument is that McClellan was a good step-father who snapped.

That's why he's pushing for judge Draganchuk to drop the first degree child abuse charges, and also to find him guilty of only second degree murder charges.

If she finds him guilty on the child abuse charge, he will face a life in prison without parole because the murder charge will be upgraded to felony murder.

A big part of Thursday's testimonies included the video of his interview with detective Charles Buckland of the Ingham County Sheriff's Department on November 2nd.

In that interview, he said he pulled Luna Younger down by her shoulder before stabbing her in the chest five times.

"If you look at the circumstances surrounding this killing and ask when did the defendant premeditate, when did he reflect, when did he have a time to think twice?" asks Ingham County Assistant Prosecutor Elizabeth Allen. "Every step of the way. Because before he knoecked to the ground a 40-pound 5-year-old girl, he had time to think."

Prosecutors say part of premeditation can also be defined by how the killer acts afterwards. In this case, they say every step taken after Luna's murder was calculated by McClellan, from showering, withdrawing cash from an ATM, getting rid of his phone and buying a new one, and then getting a motel room.

The defense disagreed:

"This was a scared, haphazard, terrified man trying to come up with some semblance of a plan afterwards and doing a poor job of it," says Crowley.