STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – A 21-year-old Sterling Heights man was sentenced to at least 15 years in prison for the death of his brother at the family's burning house.
At a sentencing hearing it's normal for a defendant to listen as the victim's loved ones deliver impact statements, however this time the statements came from the defendant's own family.
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 pronounced dead at a hospital.
Marroki's mother tearfully expressed her pain in court Wednesday before a judge.
"He has a heart of gold, he didn't mean to hurt his brother," she said. "I know Matthew's here with his beautiful spirit. He's with his brother. He wants him home. I'm begging you, I'm begging you to let mercy on Mark and give him a second chance."
Mark's father also asked the judge for a lighter sentence.
"He didn't intend to do anything to anybody and everybody here is a victim," he said.
Mark also spoke about his regret.
"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."
Mark Marroki, who was 20 at the time, was taken into custody the day of the fire and later charged with arson and first-degree murder, which was downgraded to second-degree murder as part of a plea agreement.
Family members spoke ahead of the sentencing, pleading with the judge to hand down a lighter sentence.
Watch the sentencing hearing here: