Ethan Crumbley, who massacred four students and injured seven others at Oxford High School in November 2021, received a life sentence without the possibility of parole on Friday. He spoke in court for the first time, saying he was sorry and regretful for his actions.
Crumbley, who was 15 years old at the time of the shooting, carried a gun in his backpack on Nov. 30, 2021, and fired at his classmates. He killed Tate Myre, 16, Justin Shilling, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Madisyn Baldwin, 17, after having a meeting with school staff and his parents that same morning.
“I am a really bad person. I have done some terrible things. I have lied and I’m not trustworthy. I hurt many people,” Crumbley said in a short statement to the court, after hearing the testimonies of witnesses and victims.
He added that he wants his peers to “feel safe and secure,” and he is “sorry” for his actions.
Crumbley pleaded guilty in October 2022 to 24 counts, including four counts of first-degree murder. He underwent a Miller hearing, which started on July 27, to determine whether he could be sentenced to life in prison without parole — a punishment usually reserved for adult offenders.
“I can try my best in the future to help other people and that is what I will do,” Crumbley said.
He also asked Judge Kwame Rowe to impose “any sentence” the victims have asked for him. Rowe complied, sentencing the mass shooter to life without the possibility of parole on Friday afternoon.
In a notebook presented as evidence during the hearing, Crumbley wrote that he was “going to spend the rest of my life in prison rotting like a tomato.”
Judge Rowe agreed in September that Crumbley could face such a sentence for the shooting that devastated the Oxford, Michigan, community. On Friday, Rowe called Crumbley’s shooting “torture” and an “execution.”
It is the first criminal case in the country when a defendant has been charged with and convicted of terrorism resulting from a mass shooting.
The victims’ family members spoke Friday and asked the judge for a life sentence without parole.
“Love is absent from our family because when you have no joy, you have no love,” Buck Myre, Tate Myre’s father, said. “Me and my wife are trying to figure out how to save our marriage, which is really sad because we didn’t do anything to each other.”
Madisyn Baldwin’s mom, Nicole Beausoleil, told Crumbley directly that his “suffering will come” when he “least expects it.”
“As you get older, you will realize the path you’ve chosen, and it will haunt you,” she said before the courtroom.
Craig Shilling, father of Justin Shilling, told Crumbley that his son, an organ donor, saved five lives after he was shot dead.
“As long as there are good people in the world … evil will never triumph,” he said.
Reina St. Juliana, Hana St. Juliana’s older sister, read her mother’s testimony and her own testimony aloud in the courtroom Friday.
Reina said she does not hear her sister’s footsteps coming up the stairs anymore or see the bright lights on in her bedroom. The “empty seat at the dining table is the loudest noise” she has “ever heard.” Instead of helping do her sister’s hair for a lacrosse game, she was “curling her hair for a casket,” Reina said Friday.
“There is no justice that will ever be enough,” she told the court.
Attorney Ven Johnson, who is representing multiple families in lawsuits against Crumbley and his parents, said Friday’s judgment “signifies a pivotal step towards justice” for victims and survivors who were “forever changed by the abhorrent actions of the shooter during the Oxford High School shooting — an incident that should have been prevented by those entrusted to protect these children.”
Prosecutor and defense attorney present arguments
Attorney Ven Johnson also said that despite the two-year delay, the gravity of the situation remains, and this sentencing is a vital step towards accountability. “We wholeheartedly support Judge Kwame Rowe’s decision to condemn him to life in prison without parole,” Johnson said. “Our dedication to pursuing justice stands resolute — our work to keep Oxford Community Schools and various OCS employees accountable will persist.”
Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said during the Miller hearing in July that video footage showed Crumbley approaching the victims and shooting them “at point-blank range” in the middle of the school’s hallways.
“There was extensive planning, and … we hear that he put toilet paper in his ears to protect his hearing before the shooting,” McDonald said in July. “He researched and knew what kind of weapon he needed, and the one his parents already had for him was not going to do the job, so he advocated for a higher-power firearm with more deadly bullets. He practices. He went to the shooting range.”
Crumbley’s defense attorney, on the other hand, argued that Crumbley had shown signs of severe mental illness years before the shooting, and neither his parents nor school officials did anything to help him. They also argued that he has the potential to be rehabilitated, saying he has participated in therapy every day and is taking medication by his own choice.
“We are all here because of me today. Because of what I did,” Crumbley said at the end of Friday’s proceedings, adding that he “could not stop” himself. The now-17-year old also said his parents are not to blame because they “did not know,” and Crumbley did not “tell them” what he planned to do.
Parents face trial for involuntary manslaughter
Crumbley’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, are facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter after allegedly buying a firearm for their son. Jennifer Crumbley said in a social media post that the gun was a Christmas present for their son. Their cases have since been separated, and their trials are set to begin in January.