Sterling Heights man gets 15 years in prison for starting house fire that killed teen brother

Mark Marroki pleaded no contest to charges

Mark Marroki at his sentencing on Oct. 3, 2018. (WDIV)
Mark Marroki at his sentencing on Oct. 3, 2018. (WDIV)

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – A 21-year-old Sterling Heights man has been sentenced to at least 15 years in prison for the death of his brother at the family's burning house. 

Mark Marroki pleaded no contest to charges connected to his younger brother's death during a fire he set at the home. On April 28, 2017, Matthew Marroki-Yaldo, 17, was trapped inside a bedroom in the burning home, investigators said. He was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Arson investigators found the fire suspicious when they arrived at the house in the 42000 block of Bloomingdale Drive. After an investigation, the Sterling Heights police chief said someone used an accelerant to set the fire.

Mark Marroki, 20, was arraigned on charges on Monday, May 1, 2017. (WDIV)
Mark Marroki, 20, was arraigned on charges on Monday, May 1, 2017. (WDIV)

Mark Marroki, who was 20 at the time, was taken into custody that day and later charged with arson and first-degree murder, which was downgraded to second-degree murder as part of a plea agreement.

He expressed remorse Wednesday morning before he was sentenced in front of Judge Edward Servitto in Macomb County Circuit Court. 

"I am deeply sorry for what happened ... for causing the house fire in the only home that I know. It was the worst choice I've ever made," he said. "Because of my careless actions I put the people I love in harm's way, and I lost my bother, my best friend, Matthew. This devastating loss in my family is something that I have to live with forever. I'm heartbroken that my brother and I will never have the chance to watch a movie, play video games or enjoy a car ride. I'm sorry to my parents, and my sister, and everybody, everybody that loves Matthew. I'm truly remorseful."

Family members spoke ahead of the sentencing, pleading with the judge to hand down a lighter sentence. 

Watch the sentencing hearing here: 

What happened

The fire started about 3 a.m. in the den on the first floor of the home. Matthew Marroki-Yaldo's bedroom is above the den on the second floor. Fire officials said the teen was trapped because the fire started right beneath his room. He didn't have a chance to get out. Firefighters were distraught about not being able to save him. 

"It's always tough on our crews when they deal with that. The goal is to get here and get them out, and get them safely out. That doesn't always happen, though, depending on the fire location and the victims," said battalion chief Mark Docherty.

Matthew Marroki-Yaldo
Matthew Marroki-Yaldo

Four other family members were inside the home at the time of the fire. They were outside by the time firefighters arrived. Three of them suffered non-life-threatening injuries. 

Marroki-Yaldo was a student at Sterling Heights Stevenson High School. 

Neighbors couldn't believe it.

"I just can't imagine what they're going through," said neighbor Nick Miller. "It's tragic, to say the least. The first question was just, 'Why?' I mean, we may never know why. The reasoning behind it doesn't really matter. You just hope everyone else is OK and that they can recover."

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