Judge rules school shooter Ethan Crumbley can be sentenced to life without parole

Four students were killed and seven were injured in the Oxford school shooting.

September 29, 2023, 11:05 AM

A Michigan judge ruled during a hearing Friday that Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley can serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Crumbley will appear in court on Dec. 8 for sentencing.

The hearing Friday -- called a Miller hearing -- was held due to Crumbley's age. He was just 15 at the time of the shooting, and juveniles convicted of first-degree murder in the state of Michigan cannot automatically be sentenced to life in prison without parole, like adults. Prosecutors needed to prove to the judge that life without parole was an appropriate sentence for Crumbley.

"The prosecution has rebutted the presumption, by clear and convincing evidence, that a sentence to life without parole is a disproportionate sentence," Judge Kwamé L. Rowe said Friday.

Rowe highlighted evidence against Crumbley in which he displayed violence, including Crumbley saying he felt something "between good and pleasurable" when he tortured 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.

PHOTO: Ethan Crumbley sits in court, July 27, 2023, in Pontiac, Mich.
Ethan Crumbley sits in court, July 27, 2023, in Pontiac, Mich.
Carlos Osorio/AP, FILE

Issuing his decision, Rowe questioned the possibility that Crumbley could be rehabilitated in jail.

"The evidence does not demonstrate to this court that he wants to change," Rowe said.

Crumbley pleaded guilty to killing four students and wounding seven others at a Michigan high school in November 2021.

"The defendant continues to be obsessed with violence and could not stop his violence in jail," Rowe added.

The hearing began in July when victims of the Michigan shooting gave emotional testimony in court.

Heidi Allen, a 17-year-old survivor of the shooting; Keegan Gregory, a 16-year-old survivor of the shooting; Assistant Principal Kristy Gibson-Marshall; and Molly Darnell, a teacher shot in the rampage, all testified about the shooting during the Miller hearing.

Crumbley opened fire on students in a school hallway, including 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana and 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin -- who were both killed in the shooting -- and 14-year-old Phoebe Arthur -- who was injured.

"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."

Darnell testified about getting shot in her classroom while trying to lock the door.

"I was still in disbelief that I had been shot, but what I knew was I was bleeding," Darnell said.

Ethan's parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, are charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter after allegedly failing to recognize warning signs about their son in the months before the shooting. A three-judge panel with the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in March that they would go to trial. Both have pleaded not guilty.