WATCH: Judge deciding if Ethan Crumbley should get life without parole for Oxford High School shooting

The Oxford High School shooting is in court on Thursday where a judge will hear arguments and from witnesses about whether he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Ethan Crumbley, now 16, arrived in court on Thursday for the hearing on whether he will be sentenced to life without parole for the Oxford High School shooting. The hearing is known as a Miller hearing and is being argued in Oakland County Judge Kwame Rowe's courtroom.

Watch all the testimony in the live player above and refresh this page for updates throughout the day. WARNING: the content will be graphic at times. Please take care while watching. 

During opening statements, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said she agrees that minors should not be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole but that Crumbley is an exception.

"This hearing is the most important legal proceeding of everyone here in this courtroom," McDonald said. "Everyone is in this courtroom because he decided to kill four other people and take their lives instead of his own."

Read: Crumbley pleads guilty to murder, terrorism

McDonald cites who was killed and how it was done, saying that Ethan took joy in his actions.

"The way he walks up to them and fires at point blank range, the way he takes shooter stance to kill Tate Myre," she said, arguing that Ethan knew what he was doing when he planned the shooting. "He decided in advance that he decided he was not going to kill himself. Researched response times to make sure surrendered before police arrived. He stayed alive to make sure he witnesses the suffering that the created."

"When the U.S. Supreme Court and Michigan Supreme Court talk about the rare case and the defendant (sentenced to life), this is the one, your honor," McDonald said.

Crumbley's attorney, Paulette Loftin, then delivered her opening statement, saying that the case of Miller v. Alabama requires the court to consider all matters surrounding what happened.

"The court has to consider mitigating circumstances. Those are chronological age, financial and home environment, circumstances of the crimes – not facts, circumstances – incompetency associated with youth, and the possibility of rehabilitation," Loftin.

She went on to say that Ethan pleaded guilty to the charges and that the prosecution filed a motion to seek life without parole after the plea.

"Experts and witnesses that will come before you will not give you an excuse for Ethan’s actions. They will give you an explanation for how Ethan ended up with a gun in his hand on Nov. 30, 2021," she said. "At the end of the hearing, we will be asking for a term of years bc it will be clear to you that Ethan Crumbley is not one of those rare juveniles that is irreparably corrupt and without the ability to be rehabilitated."

Witnesses testify in Ethan Crumbley's hearing

The first witness to take the stand during the hearing is Oakland County Sheriff Lt. Tim Willis, who was one of the first to arrive at the shooting and was the officer in charge of the scene.

Willis detailed Crumbley's backpack – including the journal found in his belongings that detailed his plans to shoot up the school.

On page 22, Willis testified, Crumbley said he wanted to shoot up the school and was going to buy a 9 mm pistol. That was in early November. By the end of November, his parents bought him a 9 mm Sig Sauer, which was used in the shooting.

Willis said pictures that Crumbley posted on social media showed he knew how to hold and aim a gun.

"He has some knowledge, it appears, on how to handle firearms," Willis said his finger was outside the guard and had lined up the sights appropriately.

Additionally, Willis read from a page in the journal that specifically detailed Ethan's plan that day: 

"I will continue shooting people until police breach the building, then I will surrender to them and plead guilty to life in prison," the journal read.

Additionally, Crumbley wrote that he wanted to shoot a ‘pretty girl in the back of the head’ and the journal included a drawing of a girl with a gun pointed at the back of her head – and a drawing of the gun going off.

"The first victim has to be a pretty girl with a future so she can suffer just like me," he wrote.

Willis then testified that the first person shot was Phoebe Arthur and she was shot in the face.


Ethan Crumbley during his Miller hearing on July 27, 2023

What is a Miller hearing?

Miller hearings, which are named after the U.S. Supreme Court's 2012 Miller v. Alabama ruling, are used to decide if life without parole sentences are appropriate for children. 

Crumbley pleaded guilty to four counts of murder, one count of terrorism, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and 12 counts of possession of a firearm while in the commission of a felony after the Nov. 30, 2021 shooting. However, he cannot be sentenced until a judge considers his age since he is a teenager facing life in prison. 

Crumbley was 15 when he committed the shooting. Had he been an adult, he would have automatically been given a life sentence without parole.

However, his age means certain factors must be considered before such a sentence is handed down.

What happens next?

Rowe will weigh factors such as Crumbley's age, life circumstances, and crime circumstances. This could take several days. After the Miller hearing is done, Rowe will announce his decision at a later date, and Crumbley's sentencing will be scheduled.

Life sentences can still be imposed on children, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2012 that prevents those kinds of punishments. However, a special hearing is first required. It enables juveniles with extreme sentences to argue why they should be allowed release back into society.

Crumbley previously requested that Rowe remove the life without parole possibility from his sentence, but Rowe declined.