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Man accused of murdering 5-year-old stepdaughter appears in court

Posted at 6:53 PM, Dec 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-15 18:53:45-05

He's accused of stabbing his 5-year-old stepdaughter to death in November and setting a fire to destroy the evidence.

Today his wife, the child's mother, took the stand against him inside Ingham County Court.

The hearing will determine if Thomas McClellan of Holt will stand trial for murder.

An emotionless McClellan walked into court.

Both the prosecuting and defense attorney heard testimony from the Luna Younger's mother, a detective involved in the case, and medical examiner.

Younger's mother described her daughters’ relationship with McClellan as "fatherly."

She talked about the moment she watched her daughter be pulled from the smoky Holt apartment last month.

Detective Charles Buckland from the Ingham County Sheriff’s Department was assigned to investigate the homicide.

“He said that he lit a fire by putting paper towel on the blankets and he smashed a bottle of vodka on the blankets with the paper towel that he had light on fire,” said Buckland.

The attorney representing McClellan, Andrew Abood, spoke to News 10 following today's court hearing.

"Anytime you have a homicide involving a young child it's a difficult case and I've had enough of them to know that they all present their own unique problems,” said Abood. “This is a child that's time was too short on earth, she probably had a lot more to give and a lot more to offer us."

McClellan is charged with open murder, 1st degree child abuse, and 1st degree arson.

All three crimes face the possibility of life in prison.