Dressed in a gray and black striped prison jumpsuit, hands shackled in front of him, 19-year-old Connor McCowan was sentenced to 20 to 60 years in prison for stabbing his sister's boyfriend to death, reports WLNS-TV in Lansing, Mich.
McCowan was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of 23-year-old Michigan State University student Andrew Singler on Oct. 15, after the jury deliberated for six hours. He was originally charged with open murder, meaning he could have been convicted of manslaughter, second-degree murder or first-degree murder.
The two young men had become good friends when the victim began dating McCowan's older sister, Shay McCowan. But after the couple got into a fight while they were intoxicated, Shay McCowan texted her brother, saying that the two had a physical altercation, in which Singler “just broke one of my ribs” and that she had a “broken back.”
After the two men argued over texts and tweets, McCowan showed up at Singler's doorstep in the early morning hours of Feb. 23. Prosecutors say he was there to physically confront Singler, but McCowan had said he just wanted to speak to his friend in person. Singler was stabbed twice by McCowan in front of one of Singler's roommates.
Shay McCowan's texts about injuries were untrue, she later revealed in court testimony, according to the Detroit Free Press. McCowan and Singler's angry and threatening text messages were introduced during trial, the State News reports.
McCowan went to Singler's apartment carrying a folding knife in his sweatpants, which he said he brought because Singler had threatened to "stick him in the face," according to MLive. Prosecutors said Singler opened the door and the two had a physical altercation, according to the Lansing State Journal.
Attorneys for McCowan said that Connor acted in self-defense by pulling out the knife after being hit.
The folding knife cut his elbow and pierced his heart. Singler's roommate drove the young man to Sparrow Hospital, where he was pronounced dead 30 minutes later.
At his sentencing hearing, McCowan apologized to the Singler family and thanked his own family for standing by him in a brief speech, the Lansing State Journal said. Crying, he then asked the judge to give him a second chance.
“Please,” McCowan said. “Please don’t lock me up and throw away the key.”
"You came there ready, at a minimum, to do great bodily harm with a knife,” Ingham, Mich. County Circuit Court Judge Clinton Canady III told McCowan during his sentencing hearing on Wednesday, the Lansing State Journal reported. “The bottom line is there was a death, Mr. McCowan, a death at your hands. Mr. Singler will not be coming back.”
McCowan plans to appeal the sentence, his attorney Chris Bergstrom told MLive. He will be eligible for parole in 2033 if the sentence is upheld.