PONTIAC, Mich. – A judge will deliver a decision Friday in the Oxford High School shooter’s Miller hearing, bringing the shooter one step closer to sentencing nearly two years after the massacre.
Under Michigan law, the Oxford shooter is facing a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole after being convicted of 24 felonies for the Nov. 30, 2021 school shooting. But before the shooter could be sentenced, a pre-sentencing hearing called a Miller hearing had to be held first, since he is a minor.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling dictates that sentencing must be considered differently for people below the age of 18 years old who are facing life sentences without the chance for parole -- even if they are charged and convicted as an adult, as the Oxford shooter was. Thus, a Miller hearing was held in which an Oakland County judge heard arguments for and against handing down the harshest possible sentence for the shooter.
The hearing included multiple days of arguments and witness testimony that spanned several weeks in late July and August. The defense painted the shooter as a troubled and mentally unwell child who is capable of rehabilitation in an attempt to push for a parole option. The prosecution argued that the mass shooting was a meticulously premeditated and violent execution that the shooter did to bring himself pleasure and fame, and that he should not be allowed parole.
At 9 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 29, Oakland County Judge Kwamé Rowe is scheduled to share his decision in the Miller hearing. Essentially, the judge is deciding how the Oxford shooter will be sentenced and whether or not parole will be an option, though the Friday hearing is not an official sentencing hearing.
Jail time is an absolute for the Oxford shooter, who has been convicted of murdering four students, assaulting and intending to kill seven other people, terrorism causing death, and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Judge Rowe will decide whether to sentence the shooter to life without parole, or to a term of years in prison instead. If the harshest sentence is not handed down, the Oxford shooter would face a minimum prison sentence between 25-40 years, followed by eligibility for parole.
Whatever the judge decides, the court is required to state, on the record, the “aggravating and mitigating factors it considered in reaching its decision,” the Michigan bar says.
The Oxford shooter’s official sentencing hearing has been tentatively scheduled for Dec. 8. That hearing will be held in person, and victims are expected to be allowed to make victim impact statements.
Shooter’s parents also charged
The shooter’s mother and father are also facing criminal charges in connection with the fatal mass shooting. In addition to allegedly neglecting their son and his emotional and mental health needs, as prosecutors argue, the parents are also accused of buying their son the handgun used in the shooting.
After months of the shooter’s parents attempting to get their case thrown out, the Michigan Court of Appeals in March upheld a ruling ordering them to stand trial on the four involuntary manslaughter charges they each face.