Prosecutors are demanding that two Michigan co-defendants charged in connection with a school shooting stop being so lovey-dovey in court. James Crumbley, 45, and Jennifer Crumbley, 43, are charged with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly buying their son Ethan Crumbley, 15, a gun and turning a blind eye toward disturbing signs of oncoming violence. The couple is putting up a united front in court, making hand gestures and mouthing words in an apparent attempt to communicate with one other. The state wants to stop the couple’s displays.
Ethan Crumbley is accused of shooting and killing schoolmates Hana St. Juliana, 14, Tate Myre, 16, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17, as well as injuring seven other people on Nov. 30, 2021, mere days after his parents brought him a handgun. His defense attorneys are poising for an insanity defense.
The state says that the elder Crumbleys are acting disrespectful through their in-court behavior, including by mouthing “I love you,” according to a court filing obtained by The Detroit Free Press. Prosecutors said the victims’ families contacted them and questioned why the Crumbley parents were being allowed to communicate during court hearings.
“These communications . . . not only disparage the integrity of the judicial proceedings as a serious distraction, but are also traumatic for the families of the deceased victims,” Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Markeisha Washington wrote in a filing dated Wednesday. “Their communication is far more distracting and offensive than a cell phone going off, which the court would not condone.”
“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. “The courtroom is not a place for blowing kisses and sending secret signals. This is a time for families to pursue justice.”
The Crumbleys allegedly ignored warning signs regarding their son’s behavior, including on the day Ethan allegedly opened fire at the school. Prosecutors say school officials called the parents to discuss disturbing images their alleged murderer son drew on a classroom worksheet.
“Defendants had information long before November 30 (within the six months prior to the shooting) that their son’s only friend moved at the end of October 2021; that the family dog died; that their son was sadder than usual; and that he was sending his mother disturbing texts about his state of mind,” the state argued. “Meanwhile, during that same period, Defendants spent their time at the bam caring for their horses (3-4 nights a week for up to 3 hours at a time), and seeking other relationships, including Defendant mother’s extramarital affairs. Instead of paying attention to their son and getting him help, they bought him a gun.”
The parents of two of the survivors of the attack also sued school officials with claims that the officials also failed to properly intervene despite warning signs that Nov. 30. The named defendants are fighting that lawsuit.
“[The first counselor] knew and/or should have known that by removing Ethan Crumbley from class, in front of his classmates, with his backpack and making him sit for an hour and a half while waiting for his parents, after Ethan Crumbley had drawn violent pictures and notes depicting death and violence against students at Oxford High School, such actions provided clearance for Ethan Crumbley to commit his acts of violence and would, and did, further accelerate Ethan Crumbley’s murderous plans,” the civil lawsuit alleged.
[Screenshot of the Crumbley parents via YouTube; booking photo of their son via Oakland County Jail]
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