Oxford High School Shooter to Receive Life Sentence, No Parole
Charges include one count of terrorism, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and 12 counts of possession of a firearm.
UPDATE OCTOBER 2, 2023:
The teen who killed four of his classmates and injured seven others at Oxford High School in Michigan two years ago will receive a life sentence with no chance for parole. The decision was announced by Judge Kwamé Rowe on Friday via video conference, reports CBS News. The shooter will be formally sentenced on December 8.
Last year the 17-year-old pleaded guilty to carrying out the 2021 mass shooting. Coverage of his guilty plea is below.
ORIGINAL OCTOBER 25, 2022 ARTICLE:
PONTIAC, Mich. — The teen accused of killing four students and injuring seven others at a Michigan high school last year pleaded guilty to all charges against him, including first-degree murder and terrorism charges.
The 16-year-old shooter pleaded guilty to one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and 12 counts of possession of a firearm, reports CNN. He faces up to life in prison without parole on several of the charges.
During Monday’s hearing, the shooter admitted that on Nov. 30, 2021, he retrieved a gun from an unlocked container in his home, hid it in his backpack, and pulled it out of his bag in a bathroom at Oxford High School before firing more than 30 shots at students and staff. Within minutes, deputies descended on the school and the student surrendered without resistance. Killed in the rampage were 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin, 16-year-old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, and 17-year-old Justin Shilling.
The gunman, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, originally pleaded not guilty to the charges. His defense team previously filed a notice of an insanity defense but ultimately decided a guilty plea was in his best interest, said his attorney, Paulette Michel Loftin.
When asked if he “knowingly, willfully, and deliberately” chose to shoot students, the shooter replied, “Yes.” Wolf Mueller, a lawyer representing two victim families in civil cases, said the guilty plea was a relief for his clients.
“It saves them from having to relive in court in public all the trauma and harm that they’ve experienced over the last year,” he said.
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said she is not aware of any other case in the U.S. where a mass shooter has been convicted of terrorism on state charges. Prosecutors said they brought the terrorism charge forward to acknowledge the impact the shooting has had on the community at large, according to BBC.
A follow-up hearing is scheduled for Feb. 9. Judge Kwamé Rowe said he will set a sentencing date after that, allowing victims’ families to speak at the sentencing hearing.
Trial Date Set for Oxford School Shooter’s Parents
The shooter’s parents remain behind bars. Each has been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter after prosecutors accused them of giving their son easy access to a gun and ignoring signs that he needed mental health treatment and posed a threat.
The shooter said his own money was used to purchase the gun, which his father bought for him just four days before the shooting. The parents deny their son’s claim that the gun wasn’t properly stored.
A day before the shooting, a teacher saw the teen searching for ammunition on his phone. Prosecutors say the school then contacted his mother, who later said to her son in a text message: “Lol. I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”
On the morning of Nov. 30, a teacher discovered a drawing with a gun and the words, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” There was also an image of a bullet with the words, “Blood everywhere.” The boy’s parents were called into the school to discuss the disturbing drawing but declined to take him home. They were told to get him into counseling within 48 hours. Their son opened fire soon after they left the school.
Earlier this year, prosecutors said the gunman had hallucinations about demons and was fascinated by guns and Nazi propaganda, AP News reports.
“Put simply, they created an environment in which their son’s violent tendencies flourished,” according to a court filing. “They were aware their son was troubled, and then they bought him a gun.”
The parents’ trial is scheduled for January. Both have pleaded not guilty to all charges. Loftin said it’s possible their son may be called upon to testify against them but that they have not spoken to their son as they are under a no-contact order.
The shooting prompted new legislation to prevent violence and keep students safe. In June, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation that fully funds risk assessments and critical incident mapping at all Michigan schools. In July, she signed a bipartisan education budget that included an additional $250 million for student mental health needs with each school receiving per-student funding of $214.
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