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Ethan Crumbley sits in court, Thursday, July 27, 2023, in Pontiac, Mich. Oakland County Judge Kwame Rowe is hearing evidence starting Thursday to help him decide whether Crumbley, the teen who killed four students and injured six others and a teacher in November 2021 at Oxford High School should be sentenced to prison without the chance of parole. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Ethan Crumbley, Michigan teenager who killed 4 high school classmates, appeals his life sentence: Attorneys

Ethan Crumbley sits in court, Thursday, July 27, 2023, in Pontiac, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Lawyers for Ethan Crumbley, the Michigan teenager who killed four classmates, are appealing his life sentence without parole, arguing he should get a shot at rehabilitation since he was 15 when he committed the “horrific and reprehensible act,” they announced on Friday.

Michigan’s State Appellate Defender Office, which represented him, filed a motion requesting the trial court review new evidence and grant a resentencing and review of the plea process, the office said in a news release. The new evidence includes witnesses who could have talked about his childhood struggles, his mother’s alcohol abuse during pregnancy, and the possible impact of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder on his life, the lawyers said.

“This type of sentence for a child goes against what we all know about kids — they change,” said the statement. “In the context of the criminal legal system, we also know that children who commit crimes, even brutal and unthinkable crimes, do not go on to be adults who commit crimes.”

The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office did not immediately respond to a message Friday, The Associated Press reported.

As Law&Crime reported, Crumbley 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 he had been caught drawing violent images while in class before the attack.

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    He pleaded guilty in October 2022 to all the charges against him, 24 in total — including murder and terrorism. 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.

    “He has an obsession with violence,” Rowe said as he issued his sentence. “This act involved extensive planning, extensive research, and he executed on every last one of the things that he planned.”

    Although defense lawyers 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.”

    The judge said the defendant acknowledged “this is nobody’s fault but his own” and “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 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 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.

    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.”

    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.

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

    Nicole Beausoleil, the mother of Madisyn Baldwin, described her experience of having to see her daughter’s lifeless body on a gurney.

    “To the waste that took my daughter’s life — that name will never come out of my mouth, she said. That life will cease to exist to me and just like trash it will be forgotten.

    Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald emphasized the permanent, devastating impact the shooting has had in arguing for a sentence of life without parole.

    “We will all go home when this is over, McDonald said. “But for these victims, there is no going home, because their loved one is not there.”

    The defendant’s appointed guardian ad litem, Deborah McKay, defended the killer’s humanity, insisting that he is “salvageable and can be rehabilitated.

    “We’ve heard some say he is a monster, he is trash, she said of her client. “I have to tell you, he is a life, he is a human being. He is a person.”

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    Defense attorney Paulette Michel Loftin insisted that her client is not the same person he was when he carried out the shooting and that with a combination of medication, therapy, and religion, he is on the road to improvement. She also framed the troubling and disturbing journals and videos from him before the attack as exaggerations.

    Jennifer and James Crumbley became the first U.S. parents to be convicted in a mass school shooting committed by their child. They were sentenced to at least a decade in prison.

    Law&Crime’s Marisa Sarnoff contributed to this report.

     

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