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Michigan high school shooter sentenced to Life in Prison without Parole

Ethan Crumbley stands with his attorneys Paulette Loftin (left) and Amy Hopp during his senencing hearing in Pontiac, Mich. Parents of students killed at Michigan's Oxford High School described the anguish of losing their children Friday as a judge considered whether Crumbley would serve a life sentence for the 2021 mass shooting.
Carlos Osorio
/
AP
Ethan Crumbley stands with his attorneys Paulette Loftin (left) and Amy Hopp during his senencing hearing in Pontiac, Mich. Parents of students killed at Michigan's Oxford High School described the anguish of losing their children Friday as a judge considered whether Crumbley would serve a life sentence for the 2021 mass shooting.

The Michigan teen whose murderous rampage took the lives of four classmates at Oxford High School in November, 2021, will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

That's the sentence handed-down by a Michigan judge after hours of often heart-wrenching statements by survivors and families of the victims, among others.

It was just over two years ago when then-15-year-old Ethan Crumbley emerged from an Oxford High School bathroom with a handgun and began methodically firing at students and a school employee.

He killed four of his classmates, most shot at point-blank range, then put his gun down and calmly waited for law enforcement officials to arrive.

Crumbley pleaded guilty last year to 24 felonies, including murder and terrorism.

It's unusual to file a terror charge in such a case.

But prosecutors said it reflected the trauma the shooting inflicted on everyone from children who hid under their desks during the massacre to an entire Oxford community scarred by the heinous nature of the act.

The Michigan teen whose murderous rampage took the lives of four classmates at Oxford High School in November, 2021, will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

That's the sentence handed-down by a Michigan judge after hours of often heart-wrenching statements by survivors and families of the victims, among others.

It was just over two years ago when then-15-year-old Ethan Crumbley emerged from an Oxford High School bathroom with a handgun and began methodically firing at students and a school employee.

He killed four of his classmates, most shot at point-blank range, then put his gun down and calmly waited for law enforcement officials to arrive.

Crumbley pleaded guilty last year to 24 felonies, including murder and terrorism.

It's unusual to file a terror charge in such a case.

But prosecutors said it reflected the trauma the shooting inflicted on everyone from children who hid under their desks during the massacre to an entire Oxford community scarred by the heinous nature of the act.

EMOTIONAL STATEMENTS FROM VICTIMS, FAMILIES

In court, those who survived the gunfire in the school hallway again faced Crumbley, who kept his head bowed throughout most of the proceedings.

Amid tears and tales of continuing trauma, former student Kylie Ossege described how Crumbley's bullets tore into her back, near her spine, leaving her with debilitating injuries.

Ossege said she constantly relives the moment she crumpled to the floor of the school hallway next to student Hana St. Juliana, who was dying from another gun shot.

"15 minutes of lying there absolutely helpless," Ossege remembered. "15 minutes of lying in a pool of my own blood. 15 minutes of hearing Hana St. Juliana's last sounds while stroking her hair and trying to encourage her."

St. Juliana's father, Steve St. Juliana, was among the parents of Oxford students who talked about families struggling to stay together in the aftermath of the shooting, even marriages falling apart.

St. Juliana echoed repeated calls from parents and students for the judge to deny Crumbley any chance at parole, no matter how young he was when he pulled the trigger.

"He purposely murdered my daughter in order to make himself feel better. His age plays no part. His potential is irrelevant. There is utterly nothing he could ever do to contribute to society that would make up for the lives that he has so ruthlessly taken," St. Juliana said.

ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that a judge must weigh factors like a teen's upbringing and mental state along with the facts of the crime they committed before sentencing an underaged offender to life without the chance for parole. While the sentence could still be imposed, the court said it should be rare and only for individuals who the court deemed incapable of rehabilitation.

Prosecutors told the judge, Crumbley was one of the rare juveniles that deserves Michigan's harshest penalty. They said he not only planned the shooting but also researched how long it would take police to arrive so he could surrender in time to enjoy watching the carnage he'd created.

Crumbley's attorneys and his court-appointed guardian argued that at the time of the shooting, the then 15-year-old was at the mercy of a youthful brain still developing amid a troubled home life.

They said he was not the same person as he was two years ago, that he was remorseful, on medication and regularly reading the Bible.

CRUMBLEY SPEAKS ON HIS OWN BEHALF

Towards the end of the day's long hearing, Crumbley answered yes when the judge asked if he wanted to make any comments. He told the judge he deserved any sentence that would make families in Oxford feel safe and secure again but he believed he could rehabilitate himself in prison. He also apologized to the families of the victims and survivors of the shooting. "Because I really am sorry for what I've done, what I've taken from them. I cannot give it back. But I can try my best in the future to help other people and that is what I will do," Crumbley said.

JUDGE ROWE'S DECISION

The last-minute mea culpa appeared to carry little weight with Judge Kwame Rowe. He said he believed there's little chance that Crumbley could ever truly be reformed.

"He chose not to die on that day because he wanted the notoriety. Respectfully, the defendant is the rare juvenile before this court."

After Rowe sentenced Crumbley to life without parole, the teen's attorneys said the paperwork necessary to appeal had already been signed. And there are more legal issues yet to be resolved. The teenager's parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, face their own separate trials on charges of involuntary manslaughter.

Prosecutors accuse them of being grossly negligent by ignoring their son's pleas for help with his mental health and instead buying him the gun used in the shooting massacre as a present.

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Quinn Klinefelter