Crumbleys to stand trial on involuntary manslaughter charges in Oxford shooting
During the hearing’s final day, the prosecution and defense both underscored testimony from Oxford High School counselor Shawn Hopkins, who spoke with the sophomore in the office after he was caught making a violent drawing in class the morning of the shooting.
A judge on Thursday ordered James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the teenager accused in the shooting that killed four and wounded seven at Oxford High School last year, will stand trial. They are facing charges of involuntary manslaughter.
Ethan Crumbley, their 15-year-old son, was charged as an adult with two dozen crimes, including murder, attempted murder and terrorism causing death.
The hearing picked up where it left off two weeks ago. Detective Edward Wagrowski of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Computer Crimes Unit returned to the stand and was cross examined by defense attorney Shannon Smith, who tried to separate the couple from alarming social media posts made by their son.
“Jennifer and James are not making comments about the photographs … correct?” Smith said.
“Correct,” Wagrowski said.
“And there’s no way to tell if Jennifer and James even saw those photographs?”
During the hearing’s final day, the prosecution and defense both underscored testimony from Oxford High School counselor Shawn Hopkins, who spoke with the sophomore in the office after he was caught making a violent drawing in class the morning of the shooting. Hopkins testified the teen originally claimed the images were of a video game he wanted to design.
Hopkins said his demeanor changed when asked about the words on the doodle, which included phrases like “my life is useless.” Ethan then became sad describing hardships in his life — including his dog and grandmother dying, as well as an argument over grades with his parents the night before.
Hopkins testified that led him to call James and Jennifer Crumbley to the school, as he believed their son had suicidal thoughts. After the couple seemed disinterested in coming, Hopkins says he found their behavior strange once they arrived.
“It was different from other meetings I had seen,” says Hopkins. “They weren’t friendly or showing care to their student.”
Hopkins said the parents had a negative response to his concerns over their son’s mental health. He said it was the first time he’d seen parents in that situation refuse to take their child home.
See More: Live tweet thread from the day in court.
An array of additional evidence was shared throughout the day, including images from a home search the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office conducted in the hours following the shooting.
Prosecutors also provided the Firearm Transaction Agreement that James Crumbley signed when purchasing the Sig Sauer 9mm handgun his son is accused of using in the mass shooting. While completing the form, James Crumbley checked a box acknowledging he knew it was illegal to purchase the gun for somebody else.
However, prosecutors have long argued that the gun was purchased as a gift for their son. Their son’s digital records and a social media post by Jennifer Crumbley have been submitted as evidence to support that claim.
In the social media post, Jennifer Crumbley shared what she called a mother-son day at the shooting range, allowing her 15-year-old to use his early Christmas present. Prosecutors submitted security footage of that outing from the shooting range, in which Jennifer Crumbley’s son can be seen showing his mom how to use the gun and firing the weapon himself.
Following the court’s ruling that James and Jennifer Crumbley will have to stand trial, their defense team made a request to lower the couple’s bond. That request was denied by the judge. The Crumbleys remain jailed on $500,000 bond. Legal experts say the hearing is unusually complex and the outcome could pave the way for criminalizing parenting decisions.
Earlier this week, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Kwame Rowe said that he could have a written ruling by early next week on whether the Ethan Crumbley will remain in the jail or be transferred to Children’s Village.
Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.
WDET strives to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. If you value WDET as your source of news, music and conversation, please make a gift today.