Conservatives blame 'far-left prosecutor' for MSU massacre
Shootings in Philadelphia on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, wounded nine people. - Dreamstime/Dreamstime/TNS

Conservatives are blaming a "far-left prosecutor" for a mass shooting last week at Michigan State University that left three students dead and wounded five others.

The New York Post argued in an editorial that Ingham County prosecutor Carol Siemon allowed gunman Anthony McRae to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, and not a felony that would have prevented him from buying the murder weapons, in 2019 after a police office found him carrying a concealed handgun, but legal experts told MLive the case isn't unusual.

“Plea deals are extremely common," Allison Redlich, a George Mason University professor of criminology. "The sentencing discounts are huge."

Conservative broadcasters Bill O'Reilly and Trace Gallagher have amplified the Post claims that Siemon allowed McRae, who had no previous criminal record, to plead guilty to a misdemeanor to reduce racial inequities in the justice system, but plea agreements play a role in more than 90 percent of criminal convictions, according to a recent study, although legal experts said starting with a felony charge and ending up with a misdemeanor is less common.

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“I usually try to avoid having somebody stuck with a felony conviction on their first offense with no prior record,” said Midland County prosecutor J. Dee Brooks, a Republican.

Siemon was first elected in 2016 and openly stated that she wanted to reduce racial bias in the justice system, but some of the specific initiatives cited in connection to McRae's case didn't go into effect until 2021, and Siemon retired on Jan. 1.

“Even had he been incarcerated or convicted of the original charge," Siemon said, "guns are so prevalent in our society that obtaining one is way too easy. Without locking up forever each person who may possess an illegal firearm (this is thousands each year in Michigan alone), how do we as a society better identify dangerous people and propensities to reduce gun violence?”