OAN’s Abril Elfi
10:41 AM – Friday, September 29, 2023
A Michigan judge ruled that Ethan Crumbley, the teen who killed four high school students and wounded seven others, is eligible for life in prison without chance of parole.
On Friday, Judge Kwamé Rowe ruled that 17-year-old Crumbley, who was 15 when he opened fire at a high school in 2021, is eligible for imprisonment without the possibility of parole, which is the harshest punishment possible in the Great Lake State.
The teen pleaded guilty to one crime of terrorism resulting in death, four counts of first-degree murder, and 19 additional offenses in connection with the fatal attack.
Adults in Michigan face an automatic life sentence for first-degree murder. However, since the shooter was 15 at the time, the judge had the option of giving the teen life in prison or a lower term anywhere between 25 and 40 years at a minimum with the possibility of eventual release.
In this case, prosecutors needed to prove to the judge that life without parole was an appropriate sentence for Crumbley.
Rowe said that the prosecution disclaimed the presumption that life without parole is unfair to the teen.
“The prosecution has rebutted the presumption, by clear and convincing evidence, that a sentence to life without parole is a disproportionate sentence,” Rowe said.
The judge also emphasized evidence against Crumbley that showed aggression, such as Crumbley admitting he felt “between good and pleasurable” when he tormented a baby bird.
“There is other disturbing evidence but it is clear to this court that the defendant had an obsession with violence before the shooting,” Rowe said. “The defendant continues to be obsessed with violence and could not stop his violence in jail.”
The teen opened fire at Oxford High School in November of 2021, causing the deaths of 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 17-year-old Madysin Baldwin, 16-year-old Tate Myre, and 17-year-old Justin Shilling.
Seven other people were wounded including 14-year-old Phoebe Arthur.
During the hearing, 17-year-old survivor Heidi Allen and 16-year-old Keegan Gregory, survivors of the massacre, Assistant Principal Kristy Gibson-Marshall, and Molly Darnell, a teacher shot in the rampage, all testified about the shooting.
“I saw Phoebe get shot, I saw her boyfriend [get shot], then I saw a group of girls [get shot], then I looked away,” Allen said. “I just prayed and I covered my head because I didn’t know if those were my last moments.”
Jennifer and James Crumbley, Ethan’s parents, are charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter for allegedly failing to identify warning signs about their son in the months leading up to the shooting. In March, a three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered that they would go to trial. Both have entered not guilty pleas.
The teen will be formally sentenced on December 8th at the Oakland County court and survivors and family members will be able to testify before the judge about the shooting and its effect on their lives.
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