Judge rules parents of school shooter Ethan Crumbley will stand trial

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Judge rules parents of school shooter Ethan Crumbley will stand trial

A Michigan judge has ordered the parents of accused school shooter Ethan Crumbley – who is charged with killing four of his classmates in November – to stand trial on involuntary manslaughter charges.

Rochester Hills District Court Judge Julie Nicholson said she found enough evidence to send Jennifer and James Crumbley to trial following Thursday’s preliminary examination into the couple.

The mother and father are accused of making the gun the teen allegedly used in the shooting easily accessible and failing to step in when he showed signs of mental and emotional distress both at home and at school. 

Ethan, 15, will be tried as an adult on charges of first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder, terrorism and gun charges for the deadly Nov. 30 shooting at Oxford High School, which is located about 30 miles north of Detroit. In total, four students were killed and six other students and a teacher were wounded.

He pleaded not guilty in January and will mount an insanity defense, his lawyers said.

Prosecutors said Ethan’s parents gave him the gun as an early Christmas present. 

The Crumbley parents are accused of making the guns their son allegedly used accessible and not providing him with help when he showed signs of distress.
The Crumbley parents are accused of making the guns their son allegedly used accessible and not providing him with help when he showed signs of distress.
REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

The Crumbleys’ attorney argued that his clients had no idea that their son was planning an attack and did not make the gun easily accessible to him.

On Thursday, the teen’s school counselor testified that he met with his parents the morning of the school shooting, telling them he believed Ethan was a threat to himself and in need of mental health support.

“I said as soon as possible, today if possible,” Shawn Hopkins testified Thursday, but said he was told that day would not work because the parents had to return to work.

“I didn’t want Ethan to be alone at home,” Hopkins said.

The parents had been called into the school after Ethan’s drawings were found, including one with a handgun and the words: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.”

Jennifer and James Crumbley at a court procedural hearing in Rochester Hills, Michigan on February 24, 2022.
Jennifer and James Crumbley at a court procedural hearing in Rochester Hills, Michigan on February 24, 2022.
REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

“Are we done?” Jennifer Crumbley asked the counselor after a 13-minute meeting, which the parents left with a list of mental health resources.

A day before the shooting, the school left a voicemail for Jennifer Crumbley informing her that a teacher was concerned that Ethan had been searching for ammunition online using his phone. 

On Tuesday, prosecutors said Ethan enjoyed listening to the death squeals of baby birds, wrote about wanting to rape a female classmate and idolized cannibal killer Jeffrey Dahmer, according to text messages he exchanged with friends. 

They said he sought notoriety for the killings.

“He asked in jail, ‘How do I get my fan mail? How do I get my hate mail?’” Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Collins said, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Ethan Crumbley at a placement hearing at Oakland County circuit court in Pontiac, Michigan on February 22, 2022.
Ethan Crumbley at a placement hearing at Oakland County circuit court in Pontiac, Michigan on February 22, 2022.
David Guralnick/Pool via REUTERS

Videos and texts between Ethan and his friend, Brady, in August show Ethan with a gun and inviting Brady to a gun range, Jennifer Crumbley’s attorney, Shannon Smith, said on Thursday.

“This conversation existed between Ethan and his friend, but there is not any kind of conversation like this between Ethan and his mother or Ethan and his father?” Smith asked Oakland County sheriff’s Detective Edward Wagrowski, who responded “no.”

The Crumbleys are being held on a $500,000 bond.

Ethan’s attorneys have requested that the teenager be moved from an adult jail, where he is currently held in isolation, to a juvenile center. Prosecutors argued that he poses a threat to other juvenile inmates. A decision is expected sometime next week.

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