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The Defense Doctor Says That the Oxford School Shooter Was a “Feral Child” Whose Parents Had Left Him Alone

The Defense Doctor Says That the Oxford School Shooter Was a Feral Child Whose Parents Had Left Him Alone

A psychologist testified on Tuesday that a youngster who killed four people at his Michigan high school in 2021 was like a “feral child,” having been severely neglected by his parents during formative years and suffering from mental illness.

His attorneys also played frightening jailhouse footage of the teen in extreme discomfort while being shackled by deputies and crying out for help. In one instance, he had a hood pulled over his head entirely. Dates were not shared. “Why didn’t you stop it? I’m sorry. … Stop it, God, why?” he said.

According to psychotherapist Colin King, the gunman was suffering from psychosis and had lost touch with reality. Later on, he stated his conviction that the teen “absolutely” has a chance at redemption. “A number of my clients have had issues with the law,” said King, who has testified in many homicide cases.

“Through psychotherapy and support, they’ve been able to make progress. … Ethan’s brain is still maturing.” About 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Detroit, at Oxford High School, he shot and killed four kids and injured seven more. He pleaded guilty to murder, terrorism, and other offenses.

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The shooter’s juvenile status prevents him from receiving a mandatory life term. U.S. Supreme Court precedent requires Oakland County Judge Kwame Rowe to take into account the shooter’s age, mental health, chaotic family life, and other circumstances.

Even if he has the authority to do so, a life sentence for a juvenile offender is extremely unusual. Without mitigation, the gunman faces a mandatory minimum sentence of between 25 and 40 years before being eligible for parole. There will be no choice made. On Tuesday, the hearing’s third and presumably last day,

King claimed to have spent over 20 hours with the gunman over the course of multiple encounters, conducting interviews and administering psychological evaluations. He read the teenager’s gloomy diary entries and texts as well.

King said for the first time that the day of the shooting, when the youngster was brought to the office for sketching violent imagery in class, he thought a gun was going to be found in his backpack.

“Ethan said for the first time in his life he felt relieved,” King testified. “He said he just knew the sheriffs were going to burst into the office and arrest him because there was no way, after all that they saw, they weren’t going to search that backpack.”

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The youngster was allowed to stay in class without ever having his bag searched. He then emerged from the restroom and opened fire. According to King, the gunman was raised in a chaotic home in which his parents frequently abandoned him for long periods of time, argued in front of him, and were indiscreet about talking adultery, separation, and suicide.

The child had to come up with a plan for dealing with his dead pet dog. “He can be considered a feral child,” King said. “It is essentially a child who has been abandoned. … Someone who is abandoned has what is called arrested development,” he said. “They lack social cues. They become misfits in society.”

The gunman suffers from serious depression, anxiety, and OCD, King concluded. “He’s mentally ill,” the psychiatrist concluded. James and Jennifer Crumbley, his parents, face individual counts of involuntary manslaughter. They’ve been accused of not caring about their son’s mental health and of getting him a pistol.

The prosecution is seeking an irrevocable life sentence without the possibility of parole. Last week, they contacted four eyewitnesses to the shooting, including a student who rescued a wounded girl and a member of the school staff who was injured in the incident. It was the first time their individual stories had been told in open court.

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