KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A Battle Creek man convicted of killing a woman then setting fire to her apartment to cover up the crime should not have been convicted of first-degree murder, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled.
Christopher Oros was convicted of first-degree murder, felony murder, first-degree arson and second-degree home invasion in the 2014 death of 47-year-old Marie McMillan. A judge sentenced him to life in prison for the murder charges and 25 years to 40 years in prison for the arson.
In the ruling released Friday, the appeals court ordered a new trial on the felony murder charge and reduced Oros’ conviction of first-degree murder to second-degree murder, sending the case back to Kalamazoo County Circuit Court for resentencing.
A second-degree murder sentence means it is likely Oros will become eligible for parole at some point.
At the time of the murder, Oros was at the apartment complex conning residents out of money, court records indicate. He claimed he was locked out of his apartment and asked the tenants borrow their phone to call for a ride to work. When he didn’t reach anyone by phone, he would ask the person for money.
Oros told investigators that McMillan let him into her apartment to use the phone then attacked him by hitting him over the head with a coffee mug, and jumping on him while holding a big knife. Oros claimed they struggled for the knife, and when he got it, he stabbed her several times.
Investigators found she had been stabbed 29 times. Oros then put her on her bed, piled items on top of her and set the bed on fire, according to authorities.
In their ruling, the Court of Appeals found there is no evidence of premeditation on the part of Oros, so the first degree murder conviction is not sustainable. Instead, the court agreed with the Defense thatv Oros was instead guilty of 2nd degree murder.
The court also overturned Oros’ felony murder conviction. Felony murder is when a person intentionally causes another person’s death while committing another crime. However, only certain crimes are covered by this law, and it was unclear if the jury found he had committed one of the crimes outlined under the felony murder law.
The Court of Appeals sent that charge back to Kalamazoo County Circuit Court for a new trial.