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Oxford school shooting victims to speak as teen faces possible life sentence

Oxford High School shooter sentenced to life in prison without parole
Oxford High School shooter sentenced to life in prison without parole 13:28

A teenager who killed four other students at a Michigan school will listen to their families and survivors of the mass shooting before a judge decides whether the attack will carry a life prison sentence.

Crime victims in Michigan have a right to speak in court, and the final hearing Friday in suburban Detroit is likely to be tense and emotional.

The 17-year-old shooter could be locked up with no chance for parole, a punishment sought by the Oakland County prosecutor.

But because of the shooter's age, Judge Kwamé Rowe also could order a shorter sentence — anywhere from 25 years to 40 years at a minimum — that would eventually make him eligible for release by the state parole board.

The shooter pleaded guilty to all 24 charges in the 2021 Oxford High School shooting, including first-degree murder and terrorism.

"I'm excited to have my words heard and my story heard," Kylie Ossege, 19, who was severely wounded, recently told The Associated Press.

The shooter, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, also will have an opportunity to speak in court and possibly explain why he believes he should be spared a life sentence.

Defense attorney Paulette Michel Loftin has argued the teen deserves an opportunity for parole after his "sick brain" is fixed through counseling and rehabilitation.

But after listening to testimony from experts, Rowe said in September that he had found only a "slim" chance that he could be rehabilitated behind bars.

In a journal, the shooter wrote about his desire to watch students suffer and the likelihood that he would spend his life in prison. He made a video on the eve of the shooting, declaring what he would do the next day.

The shooter and his parents met with school staff on the day of the shooting after a teacher noticed violent drawings. But no one checked his backpack for a gun and he was allowed to stay.

Like their son, Jennifer and James Crumbley are locked up in the county jail. They are awaiting trial on involuntary manslaughter charges, accused of making a gun accessible at home and neglecting their son's mental health.

The shooter killed Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana and Justin Shilling at the school in Oxford Township, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) north of Detroit. Six other students and a teacher also were wounded.

The Oxford school district hired an outside group to conduct an independent investigation. A report released in October said "missteps at each level" — school board, administrators, staff — contributed to the tragedy.

The teen's behavior in class, including looking at a shooting video and gun ammunition on his phone, should have identified him as a "potential threat of violence," the report said.

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