A Michigan judge on Friday was set to rule on whether a teenager who fatally shot four classmates and wounded six other people at his high school outside Detroit two years ago is eligible for a sentence of life in prison without parole despite his young age.
At a hearing at Oakland County Circuit Court, Judge Kwame Rowe will announce his decision on the possibility of parole for Ethan Crumbley, who was 15 years old when he carried out the mass shooting at Oxford High School.
The actual sentencing will take place at a hearing scheduled for Dec. 8.
Crumbley pleaded guilty last October to 24 charges, including one count of terrorism causing death and four counts of first-degree murder.
An adult convicted of such charges would normally receive a life sentence without the chance for parole, but judges are required to consider the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders as a result of a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision.
During a four-day hearing in August, prosecutors showed video footage of the shooting, disturbing passages from the shooter’s journal and testimony from students and local law enforcement.
Prosecutors highlighted chilling statements that Crumbley had made before the massacre, including an audio recording in which he said he would “have so much fun” shooting his peers. Defense attorneys presented testimony from doctors who saw the potential to remedy Crumbley’s mental health issues over time.
Crumbley, now 17, carried out the massacre in November 2021 with a semi-automatic handgun that his father bought him as a Christmas gift days earlier. He killed two boys, aged 17 and 16, and two girls, aged 17 and 14, and wounded six other students and a teacher.
The case appears to be the first in the United States in which the parents of a teenage school shooter have also been charged with crimes attributed to their child.
His parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges connected to the shooting. In that case, Rochester District Court Judge Julie Nicholson said evidence showed they had bought a gun for their son despite signs that he was a “troubled young man.”