Prosecutors have blasted the parents of accused Michigan high school shooter Ethan Crumbley for their “inappropriate” displays of affection in court, where the duo are facing charges over their alleged role in the massacre.
James and Jennifer Crumbley, who are charged with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly allowing their 15-year-old son Ethan access to the 9mm handgun used in the attack, have blown kisses and mouthed “I love you” to each other during court proceedings, prosecutors said in court filings obtained by the Detroit Free Press.
Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Markeisha Washington formally asked a judge Wednesday to put an end to the “inappropriate” and “disrespectful” courtroom antics, which they say have been noticed by some relatives of the victims.
“These communications … not only disparage the integrity of the judicial proceedings as a serious distraction, but are also traumatic for families of the deceased victims,” Washington wrote. “Their communication is far more distracting and offensive than a cell phone going off, which the court would not condone.”
Four of Ethan’s classmates died in the Nov. 30 mass shooting at Oxford High School. Six other students and a teacher were also hurt. The teen’s attorneys said last week he intends to plead insanity in the massacre.
Other prosecutors in the case said they’ve been contacted by victims’ families to express their disgust in response to the lovebirds.
“Mr. & Mrs. Crumbley’s conduct in court makes a mockery of the crimes they are accused of committing,” Chief Assistant Prosecutor David Williams said in a statement Wednesday. “The courtroom is not a place for blowing kisses and sending secret signals. This is a time for families to pursue justice.”
Court records cited by the newspaper show James Crumbley, 45, mouthed what appeared to be “I love you” to his 43-year-old wife as his mask was partially pulled down during a hearing in December.
When that hearing ended, the couple then shared “additional nonverbal communication” as Jennifer Crumbley left the courtroom, according to Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald.
McDonald wants a judge to bar the Crumbleys from any physical, verbal or nonverbal contact during proceedings. Attorneys for the couple could not be reached, but prosecutors wrote in filings that the defense “expressed a willingness” to get the Crumbleys to comply, the Free Press reported.
McDonald claims the couple, who remain held on $500,000 bond, committed “egregious acts” by buying a gun on Black Friday and then failing to secure it. James and Jennifer Crumbley have pleaded not guilty, claiming the gun was properly stored and that they had no knowledge of their son’s intentions to shoot up his school.
Ethan Crumbley, who faces 24 charges that include terrorism and four counts of murder, pleaded not guilty last month. He remains held without bond at the Oakland County Jail, where his parents are also in custody.