Ethan Crumbley fatally shot four students and injured seven other people.
CNN  — 

A judge is scheduled to rule September 29 on whether Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley can be sentenced to life in prison without parole, the harshest punishment available in Michigan.

Crumbley, now 17, has pleaded guilty to one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder and 19 other charges related to the November 2021 shooting at Oxford High School. He fatally shot four students and injured seven other people when he was 15.

Over four days, Oakland County prosecutors and the shooter’s defense team presented witness testimony and evidence at a Miller hearing, required by law when prosecutors seek a life sentence for a minor defendant. Oakland County Circuit Judge Kwamé Rowe will now determine whether prosecutors met their burden to prove a life term is a proportionate sentence for Crumbley.

Rowe said he will issue his ruling during a remote hearing on Zoom. The judge also scheduled Crumbley’s sentencing for December 8. Victims of the shooting will give impact statements at the hearing ahead of the judge’s sentencing.

In her closing argument Friday, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald told the court she at first struggled on the issue but ultimately determined that the teen should be one of the rare minors who receive the state’s most severe punishment.

“I learned that there has never been an offense or offender like this one, not just in our state but our country,” she said. “This is a person who killed four of his classmates solely for the pleasure of killing and to increase the body count to try to make himself famous. It wasn’t impulsive, and their expert even acknowledges that.”

The prosecutors have pointed to Crumbley’s premeditation of the attack as reason he should receive a life sentence. They played audio messages in court in which the teen said, “I am going to be the next school shooter” and that he would “have so much fun.”

“I will walk behind someone, and I will shoot a bullet into their skull. And that’s the first victim,” he said in the audio messages. “I’m gonna open fire on everyone in the hallway … I will try to hit as many people as I can. I will reload, and I will find people hiding. I want to teach them a lesson of how they are wrong, of how they are being brainwashed.”

Defense attorney Paulette Loftin asked the judge to consider mitigating factors in favor of a prison sentence with parole eligibility, like his difficult home life and ignored pleas to his parents for mental health treatment. Loftin implored the court to give Crumbley a chance to be rehabilitated and let a parole board determine his progress years from now.

“We ask that you give Ethan a chance to show this court and to show his community that he will do good things with his time that when he stands before the parole board there will only be positives to discuss,” the defense attorney said. “Denying the motion and giving him a term of years is not an automatic out date. It is putting the ball in his court and it is letting someone else make the decision when they have those decades of records. Everyone can be rehabilitated.”

Scrutiny has fallen on Crumbley’s parents, who have pleaded not guilty to four involuntary manslaughter charges each for their role in the shooting. Prosecutors in their case have claimed that Jennifer and James Crumbley ignored signs of their son’s devolving mental health and purchased a gun despite signs he was a threat. James Crumbley purchased the gun his son used in the shooting just four days before the rampage, according to prosecutors.

McDonald said she feels compassion for Crumbley, who she believes has negligent parents, but said it doesn’t outweigh the impact of his fatal rampage and other factors.

“We have to deal with the darkness and the violence, and we have to accept that it happened,” she said. “And we can also say we wish he had a better upbringing. But we’re not going to ignore facts. And the facts are that he had a choice. He had many opportunities. He plotted, he planned, he showed none of the mitigating factors and evidence that you see in hundreds of other juvenile life without parole cases.”

McDonald also pointed to expert testimony on the shooter’s mental status. Forensic psychiatry expert Dr. Lisa Anacker testified earlier in the day that she found Crumbley did not meet the statutory definition of mental illness when she evaluated records and interviewed him.

The prosecutor also reminded the court that Crumbley pleaded guilty to terrorism for the mass shooting at his former high school.

“His life will be spared just the way he wanted. He can continue to watch his victims suffer, but he can do it from a place where the victims will never have to live in fear that they will face him again or that he will do it again to someone else,” McDonald said. “And even if the defendant changes and he finds some peace and some meaning in his life beyond torture and killing does not mean that he ever gets the right to live free and among us.”