DETROIT (AP) — A teenager accused of killing four fellow students and other injuries at a Michigan high school are set to plead guilty to murder next week, authorities said Friday.
Ethan Crumbley created images of violence during a class assignment last November but was not sent home from Oxford High School in southeast Michigan. He pulled out a gun a few hours later and committed a mass shooting.
Authorities have placed some responsibility on Crumbley’s parents, portraying them as a dysfunctional couple who ignored their son’s psychological needs and happily provided a gun as a gift just days before the attack. They too face charges.
Crumbley, 16, is due to appear in court on Monday.
“We can confirm that the shooter is expected to plead guilty to all 24 counts, including terrorism, and the DA has notified the victims,” said David Williams, Assistant Attorney General for Oakland County.
A note was left for the boy’s lawyers asking for comment.
Crumbley was 15 when the shooting happened at Oxford High, about 30 miles north of Detroit.
His parents had been called to school that day to discuss the teenager’s ominous writings. A teacher had found a drawing with a gun pointed at the words, “Thoughts don’t stop. Help me.” There was a picture of a bullet with the message: “Blood everywhere.”
James and Jennifer Crumbley declined to take Ethan home but were told to take him to a counseling session within 48 hours, according to investigators.
A day earlier, a teacher saw Ethan searching for ammunition on his cell phone. The school contacted his mother, Jennifer Crumbley, who then texted her son: “Lol. I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught,” prosecutors said.
Ethan Crumbley was charged as an adult with one count of causing death by terrorism, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of attempted murder and 12 counts of connection with use of a weapon.
A first-degree murder conviction in Michigan usually carries an automatic sentence of life in prison. However, teenagers are entitled to a hearing where their attorney can advocate for a reduced sentence and the possibility of parole.
Separately, James and Jennifer Crumbley face involuntary manslaughter charges – a rare case of prosecutors trying to hold parents accountable for a school shooting. They are accused of giving Ethan access to a gun and neglecting his need for psychiatric care.
“Put simply, they have created an environment in which their son’s violent tendencies will thrive. They were aware their son was in trouble and then they bought him a gun,” prosecutors said in a court filing.
The Crumbleys said they were unaware of Ethan’s plan. They also deny that the gun was easy to obtain at home.
Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana and Justin Shilling were killed while six students and one teacher were injured.
Sheriff Mike Bouchard said a guilty plea from Ethan Crumbley would be a relief to families and witnesses.
“At least not having to go through the pain of looking carefully at every piece of evidence, every video and all the things that would be horrific,” Bouchard told WDIV-TV at a trial.
In court documents, prosecutors have revealed parts of Ethan Crumbley’s personal diary. He said his grades were bad and his parents hated each other and had no money.
“It only fuels my desire to destroy the school or do something else,” the teen wrote.
All three Crumbleys are being held in the Oakland County Jail, although Ethan is kept away from adults.
Ven Johnson, a lawyer suing the Oxford School District, declined to comment on Ethan Crumbley’s expected plea deal on Friday.
AP reporter Corey Williams contributed to this story.
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