A judge sentenced a Michigan teenager to life in prison Friday for killing four students and terrorizing others at Oxford High School, after listening to hours of gripping anguish from parents and wounded survivors.
Judge Kwame Rowe rejected pleas from defense lawyers for a shorter sentence and ensured that Ethan Crumbley, 17, will not get an opportunity for parole.
Moments before learning his fate, the teen apologized and appeared to agree with his victims that the stiffest punishment was appropriate.
“Any sentence that they ask for, I ask that you do impose it on me,” the shooter said. “I want them to be happy, and I want them to feel secure and safe. I do not want them to worry another day. I really am sorry for what I’ve done. … But I can try my best in the future to help other people, and that is what I will do.”
“It’s not a moment to celebrate,” McDonald said outside court. “It’s tragic. And the voices today, I think, profoundly show that.”
Crumbley, who was 15 when he committed the shooting, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and terrorism. He brought a gun to school, but his backpack was never checked, even after his parents were summoned that same day about their son’s drawings, which included a gun and words: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.”
“I am a really bad person. I’ve done terrible things,” Crumbley said in court Friday.
The judge said the shooting was planned well in advance, and he noted that the shooter had plenty of time to stop as he walked through school.
Rowe was especially troubled by how victim Hana St. Juliana was repeatedly shot and that another, Justin Shilling, was shot at point-blank range in a bathroom while another student was forced to watch. He described it as “execution” and “torture.”
Earlier, Rowe allowed a framed photo of Tate Myre to be placed near him while the slain teen’s father spoke.
Nicole Beausoleil recalled seeing the body of her daughter, Madisyn Baldwin, at the medical examiner’s office, her hand with blue-painted fingernails sticking out from a covering.
“I looked through the glass. My scream should have shattered it,” Beausoleil said.
Crumbley’s defense team urged the judge to give him a chance to turn his life around and become eligible for parole. A court-appointed guardian, lawyer Deborah McKelvy, said the teen was not the same person, two years after the murders.
“He is a bright young man,” she told the judge. “He is an artist. He is a historian. There are days I have been oblivious sitting in a cell for three hours just talking to him. His life is salvageable.”
Meanwhile, parents Jennifer and James Crumbley are locked up in the county jail. They are awaiting trial on involuntary manslaughter charges, accused of making a gun accessible at home and neglecting their son’s mental health.
The shooting happened in Oxford Township, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) north of Detroit. Besides the four students who were killed, six more students and a teacher also were wounded.
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