A Michigan judge has ruled that Ethan Crumbley, the 17-year-old charged with killing four students at Oxford High School in 2021, can be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The ruling comes nearly a year after Crumbley pleaded guilty to terrorism and murder charges.
Oakland County Judge Kwamé Rowe determined that Crumbley’s planning of the shooting did not demonstrate the maturity expected of a child, making him eligible for a life sentence without parole. Prosecutors argued that Crumbley’s premeditation of the shooting justified such a sentence, citing audio messages in which he expressed his intention to become the next school shooter.
Crumbley’s attorney, Paulette Loftin, contended that he could be rehabilitated and was not irreparably corrupt. Crumbley pleaded guilty last year to one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, and 19 other charges related to the shooting.
The hearing, known as a Miller hearing, was required due to a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that deemed mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles who committed murder unconstitutional.
Crumbley’s parents, Jennifer and James, were also arrested and charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors alleged that they purchased the gun used in the shooting and ignored signs that their son posed a threat. The court determined that Ethan’s home life was a mitigating factor in the shooting. The parents, who pleaded not guilty, are scheduled to be tried in January.
The shooting took place at Oxford High School, located approximately 40 miles north of Detroit. Three students were found dead at the scene, while seven others were injured. Another student died later at a hospital. Crumbley was apprehended by police following the incident.
During the hearing, passages from Crumbley were revealed, including one expressing his desire to hear the screams of the children as he shot them. Loftin argued that these passages highlighted Crumbley’s deteriorating mental health.
Ethan Crumbley’s sentencing is scheduled for December 8.