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Alleged School Shooter’s Parents Vow to Fight $500,000 Cash Bond as They Await Trial in Michigan Massacre


James Crumbley and Jennifer Crumbley appear in court on Dec. 24, 2021.  (Image via WXYZ-TV screengrab.)

Appearing in court wearing jailhouse garb emblazoned with the word “prisoner” down one leg, the parents of accused Michigan high school shooter Ethan Crumbley, 15, appeared in court for a probable cause pre-exam conference on Tuesday afternoon. Attorneys for the parents agreed to postpone a probable cause examination — but they vowed to fight the $500,000 cash bond each defendant must pony up if they hope be released from jail pending trial.

James Crumbley, 45, and Jennifer Crumbley, 43, are each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors have alleged that the parents acted in a grossly negligent manner and caused the deaths of the four teens their son is accused of gunning down on Nov. 30. The two parents were arrested in a building in downtown Detroit after authorities suggested they were attempting to flee; an attorney for one of the parents said they were scared and were planning to turn themselves in.

Jennifer Crumbley, Ethan Crumbley, and James Crumbley appear in mugshots taken by the jail in Oakland County, Mich., in Dec. 2021.

Jennifer Crumbley, Ethan Crumbley, and James Crumbley appear in mugshots taken by the jail in Oakland County, Mich., in Dec. 2021.

The Crumbley parents on Tuesday again waived any conflict that might manifest by being represented by attorneys within the same law firm. The attorneys representing the duo — Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman — also certified that no conflict exists. The defense team said they had discussed how to handle the cases should a conflict of interest occur down the road and were prepared to announce to the court should such a conflict arise.

James Crumbley and defense attorney Mariell Lehman appear in court on Dec. 14, 2021.  (Image via WXYZ-TV screengrab.)

Oakland County Prosecuting Attorney Karen D. McDonald then noted that “four children were murdered” in the shooting at Oxford High School. Hana St. Juliana, 14, Tate Myre, 16, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17, were all killed. Shilling died in the hospital the morning after the shooting.

“Six children and one teacher were shot. Hundreds were terrorized,” the prosecutor added.

That, McDonald said, necessitated a delay in the standard probable cause examination contemplated under Michigan law within 21 days of a defendant’s arraignment.

“The volume of discovery in this case is staggering,” McDonald said while rattling off the types of reports her office was receiving from myriad federal, state, and local agencies. “The typical protocols for discovery” would not be adequate, she said.

McDonald noted that the request to push off the probable cause examination was joined by the defense. The defense also agreed to a protective order as to evidence which depicted the shootings and the injuries. That material will remain at the prosecutor’s office and will be viewable there, but not elsewhere, McDonald said of the agreement.

The prosecutor said a “first wave” of data has been turned over to the defense and that another 40 gigabytes of data is in the process of being reviewed by her office. McDonald estimated that prosecutors have received only about one third of the “voluminous” evidence she expects to be produced by investigators and law enforcement agents.

McDonald further noted that funerals for the four victims “have just recently concluded” and that she considered it unwise to hold a full probable cause hearing just days before Christmas. The hearing had previously been scheduled for Dec. 22.

“The prosecutor’s office has a lot of work to do with the victims and their families,” McDonald continued.

Jennifer Crumbley waits for attorneys and prosecutors to converse with a judge at a sidebar on Dec. 14, 2021. (Image via WJBK-TV screengrab.)

Judge Julie Nicholson signed the agreed-upon protective orders for the cases against each parent. She also agreed to push off the probable cause examination to Feb. 8, 2022 at 1:15 p.m. Other days will be scheduled if testimony and events warrant, the judge said.

The defendants spoke briefly to the judge by responding in the affirmative that they consented to the delayed examination hearings.

Defense attorneys said another motion would be forthcoming regarding the defendants’ bond — perhaps within a week, depending on the status of discovery. Each parent is currently held on a $500,000 cash bail.

Judge Nicholson set a motion date for Jan. 7 at 1:15 p.m. to discuss the forthcoming motion.

The defense attorneys said they would “for sure” be filing a bond motion but that their timeline was contingent upon the state’s speed at handing over material to them.

The brief hearing concluded after about 15 minutes.

Watch the hearing below:

[Images via screengrab from WXYZ-TV and WJBK-TV]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.