A memorial outside Oxford High School honors four students who were shot and killed at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2021. File photo by Nic Antaya/EPA-EFE
Aug. 18 (UPI) — A Michigan judge will decide Friday if a teenage defendant will serve life in prison without parole in the killing of four classmates in 2021 as a hearing to determine a fair sentence for the minor wraps up in Oakland County Circuit Court.
Judge Kwame Rowe has broad discretion to rule whether it is fair to incarcerate Ethan Crumbley for the rest of his life after the 17-year-old pleaded guilty to the 2021 Oxford High School shooting that left four dead and seven others hurt or wounded, including a teacher.
Under an alternative sentence, the judge could send the shooter away for a term of years, in which a minimum lockup would range from 25 to 40 years, up to a maximum of 60 years, before Crumbley could ever walk free again.
The shooter’s mental state at the time of the crime is a major factor in the ruling for an appropriate sentence, with Rowe expected to hand down the punishment at a later date to allow more time to consider the facts of the case.
The prosecution was planning to call one final rebuttal witness Friday to argue against Crumbley’s claims of mental illness.
Dr. Lisa Anacker, a psychologist who interviewed the teen in March 2022, was expected to argue that the teen was sane and knew what he was doing when he opened fire.
Previously, Judge Rowe denied a request by defense attorney Paulette Loftin to throw out Anacker’s testimony on the claim she never clinically examined the teen’s mental state.
Earlier in the trial, the defense called psychologist Colin King, who testified the shooter had shown signs of mental illness prior to the killings and revealed to family members that he was hearing voices and seeing demons.
Crumbley was a 15-year-old sophomore when he took a loaded semi-automatic handgun to school on Nov. 30, 2021, shooting and killing Tate Myre, 16; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Justin Shilling, 17.
The boy’s parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, are awaiting trial on multiple charges of involuntary manslaughter after they purchased the gun for the boy as an early Christmas present.