Analysis: Ruling that Oxford shooter could get life without parole, a major win for prosecutor

The Oxford High School shooter who pleaded guilty in the fall of 2022, was not sentenced during a hearing on Friday – but the ruling left the option open for a lifetime sentence without parole.

Rowe pointed out how the teen carefully planned and carried out the shooting that killed four teens, and wounded six others and a teacher.

Juveniles are not normally sentenced to life in prison without parole - the shooter's defense team argued he could be rehabilitated. The prosecutors disagreed - after an extensive hearing, the judge had to consider the shooter's age and maturity, his family and home environment, his role in the murders, and the possibility of rehabilitation.

FOX 2 Legal Analyst Charlie Langton said the decision was a major victory for Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald.

He says McDonald wanted the judge at the time of sentencing to be able to give the shooter life in prison. And now that is a possibility.

"Prior to this, minors generally do not get life in prison unless the prosecutor can show clear and convincing evidence - a very tough standard - that this minor should get life in prison," Langton said.

He explained the factors that led the judge to make this ruling.

"A number of factors - the age of this particular shooter, the circumstances surrounding this particular crime, the rehabilitation potential, those are the big ones," Langton said. "The judge noted the shooter was a very mature 15-year-old, that he meticulously planned and researched the possible consequences drew pictures of guns, and did homework assignment that was not good for the shooter.

"Also, the crime was so horrendous that the judge didn't even get into the facts."

The shooter's parents Jennifer and James Crumbley, also play a role in the sentence.

"His parents may have been a problem, they're being tried as well. But the parents never beat him, he did have a semi-normal upbringing," Langton said. "But the rehabilitation, the judge said the rehabilitation (possibility) for the shooter is slim. In the short time that he was in prison in jail, he committed four violations."

Rowe said the minor probably would not be a good candidate for rehabilitation.

More coverage

"The bottom line here, this shooter in the Oxford High School case now when sentencing comes, could in fact, get life in prison," Langton said. "It is not a done deal yet. But now life in prison is on the table."