Oxford school shooter Ethan Crumbley gets life, no parole

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Ethan Crumbley, the Michigan teenager who killed four of his classmates after drawing violent images in a class workbook, will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Crumbley, now 17, was 15 years old when he shot and killed his fellow Oxford High School students — Tate Myre, 16 Hana St. Juliana, 14, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17 — in November 2021 with a gun he had received as a gift from his parents. A subsequent investigation revealed that he had been caught drawing violent images while in class before the attack.

He pleaded guilty in October 2022 to all the charges against him, 24 in total — including murder and terrorism. In September, Oakland County Judge Kwame Rowe ruled that Crumbley is eligible for the sentence of life without parole, which is what the prosecutors had requested. First-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence in Michigan, but Rowe could have potentially considered a shorter term because of the defendant’s age at the time.

His defense lawyers had requested a sentence of an undetermined “term of years.”

When Rowe issued his sentence, he was unequivocal: the defendant would never know life outside of prison.

Ethan Crumbley stands and addresses the court before being sentenced, Friday, Dec. 8, 2023, in Pontiac, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio). Right: Judge Kwame Rowe presides over the sentencing hearing of Ethan Crumbley, Friday, Dec. 8, 2023, in Pontiac, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, Pool)

“He has an obsession with violence,” Rowe said as he issued his sentence of life without the possibility of parole. “This act involved extensive planning, extensive research, and he executed on every last one of the things that he planned.”

Although defense lawyers had said the shooter had mental problems at the time of the attack, Rowe said that his “alleged mental illness did not interfere with his ability to extensively plan for months … nor his ability to execute those plans.”

He said that the defendant acknowledged that “this is nobody’s fault but his own,” and that “he stated this afternoon that [receiving help] probably still would not have stopped him. That is absolutely concerning to this court.”

The judge, who described the defendant as “the rare juvenile” who deserves to be behind bars for life, said that the shooter “wanted to see the impact of his crime, which is why he didn’t want to take his own life … he chose not to die on that day because he wanted that notoriety.”

He also noted that the defendant “himself is not asking this court for a term of years.”

Indeed, when the shooter spoke on his own behalf, he asked the judge to issue the sentence that the victims’ families had requested.

“Any sentence that they ask for, I ask that you do impose it on me,” he said. “I want them to be happy. I do want them to feel safe and secure. I don’t want them to worry another day.”

“I am a really bad person, I have done terrible things that no one should ever do,” he also said. “I have lied, been not trustworthy, I’ve hurt many people, and that’s what I’ve done and I’m not denying it.” He then insisted that he intends to make positive changes going forward, regardless of the sentence.

At Friday’s hearing, which started at 9 a.m. and lasted for more than seven hours, parents of the shooter’s young victims gave heart-wrenching testimony.

Buck Myre, father of Tate Myre, spoke emotionally about the immeasurable toll the loss of his youngest son has taken on his family.

“Love is obviously absent from our family, because there is no joy,” Buck Myre said. “When you have joy, it’s easy to love … me and my wife are trying to figure out how to save our marriage and how to save our family, and we didn’t even do anything to each other.”

Myre said that he and his family will work toward forgiveness, but only because it’s necessary.

“What other options do we have?” he said. “Be miserable for the rest of our lives and rob our family of normalcy? Be miserable and rob [brothers] Trent and Ty of a normal life filled with friends, their future wife and kids? Be miserable and rob [wife] Sheri and I of a happy life that we worked very hard for and earned … What you stole from us is not replaceable. But what we won’t let you steal from us is a life of normalcy, and we’ll find a way to get there through forgiveness and through putting good into this world.”

Others expressed a demand for justice in voices overwhelmed with quiet, despairing anger.

“There can be no forgiveness,” said Steve St. Juliana, father of Hana St. Juliana. “There can be no rehabilitation … there is nothing he could ever contribute to society that could make up for the lives he has so ruthlessly taken.”

“I’m going to ask you to lock this son of a b—- up for the rest of his pathetic life,” Craig Shilling, father of Justin Shilling, said.

“To the waste that took my daughter’s life — that name will never come out of my mouth,” said Nicole Beausoleil, the mother of Madisyn Baldwin, who described her experience of having to see her daughter’s lifeless body on a gurney. “That life will cease to exist to me and just like trash it will be forgotten.”

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