A Michigan judge on Friday denied a defense request to lower the bonds for the parents of accused school shooter Ethan Crumbley after prosecutors alleged in court that James and Jennifer Crumbley had “drained” their own son’s bank account and fled Oxford for an abandoned building in Detroit on the day they were supposed to surrender to authorities.
Oakland County prosecutors also reiterated arguments made in December in their response to the Crumbleys’ motion to reduce their bonds, stressing that the parents ignored obvious signs their son was “gravely troubled” for months before the November 30 shooting that left four Oxford High School students dead and seven other people, including a teacher, wounded.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley faces four counts of murder, one count of terrorism causing death, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and 12 counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. His parents have been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; and Justin Shilling, 17.
Defense attorneys Mariell Lehman and Shannon Smith, who previously represented convicted child molester and former USA Gymnastics coach Larry Nasser, filed last month to lower the Crumbleys’ bonds to $100,000 from $500,000. During court on Friday, Lehman objected to prosecutors’ mention of Jennifer Crumbley’s alleged extramarital affair in their response to that motion, the Detroit News reported.
The attorneys also said Friday the Crumbleys were willing to wear GPS tethers if they were released on bond, were unlikely to flee because they have strong ties to the community, and were absolutely not negligent with the gun they bought their son as an early Christmas present — the gun he allegedly used in the mass shooting at his high school.
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald noted that the Crumbleys, who had been staying at a hotel across the street from the police department after the shooting, checked out the day they had reportedly agreed to turn themselves in, leaving one of their cars in the hotel parking lot. When they were arrested days later at an art studio in Detroit — after a witness spotted them and reported it — they had $6,600 in cash on them, along with 10 credit cards and four cell phones, according to McDonald. And, she said, they had cleared Ethan’s bank account of $3,000, leaving 99 cents in it.
“These are not the actions of people who are trying to turn themselves in,” McDonald said.
Assistant Prosecutor Mark Keast addressed defense arguments that prosecutors would have a hard time convicting the Crumbleys. He pointed out that their son was “gravely troubled and fascinated with firearms,” filling a notepad with drawings of guns.
“He displayed terrifying tendencies and behaviors, and he literally sketched out what he planned to do in his journal in his drawings,” Keast said.
Prosecutors released the drawing that prompted school officials to call in Ethan’s parents on the morning of the shooting — a worksheet of match homework. A teacher snapped a picture of the page they saw — with a gun and a bullet; the phrases “the thoughts won’t stop help me,” “blood everywhere,” “my life is useless,” and “the world is dead;” and a bloody human. But Ethan apparently changed the drawing before his parents arrived for the meeting with school officials: The gun and the bloody human were marked out, as were the words “blood everywhere,” “my life is useless,” “help me,” and “the world is dead.” New phrases were written on the page: “RMX 808,” “video game this is,” “harmless act,” “we’re all friends here,” “OHS rocks!” and “I love my life so much!!!!”
Keast said that school officials feared Ethan was having suicidal ideations and recommended he have therapy.
“They resisted, asserting that they couldn’t possibly take him out of school because of work,” Keast said.
Keast also told the court that cellphone evidence had revealed Ethan texted his parents last spring about having seen a ghost or demon at their house when he was home alone and that two months later, he filmed himself “torturing and killing animals at the family home.”
“Cellphone extraction also revealed that he searched school shootings and firearms so often on his phone that he received spam advertisements regarding his mental well-being,” Keast said.
All of these incidents, Keast argued, should have been noted by parents were were paying attention to their child.
The Crumbleys are due in court again on February 8 for a preliminary hearing, according to WJBK.
Ethan Crumbley had originally been scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Friday, but he waived it to send his case straight to trial, the station said.
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