James and Jennifer Crumbley are asking a judge to lower their bond, arguing the prosecution has unfairly portrayed them as bad parents, and that the "the real facts" about how they raised their son and how they responded to the deadly Oxford school shooting have not yet fully been disclosed.
Each parent wants their bond lowered from $500,000 to $100,000, maintaining they had no idea their son would allegedly carry out a school shooting.
"Even the prosecution is changing its understanding of the facts in this case and has recognized that the Crumbleys may be found 'not guilty,' " defense lawyers argued in a new court filing, adding the Crumbleys are neither a public safety risk nor a flight risk, "particularly if they are placed on local house arrest status with GPS tethers."
The defense has long maintained that James and Jennifer Crumbley did not know their son would carry out a school shooting.
"No one expected that the shooter could be or would be homicidal," the Crumbleys' lawyers argued in a late Tuesday court filing. "The media contains so much histrionic and emotional information that many of the real facts of this case have been lost upon the public. The real facts ... show that this case amounts to a completely devastating event where people w ant to find someone or something to assign responsibility to."
That "someone" is the Crumbleys — the parents of 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, who is charged with opening fire in his high school with a gun that his parents allegedly purchased for him four days earlier.
Four students died, seven other people were injured.
The Oakland County Prosecutor's Office is opposed to lowering the Crumbleys' bond.
"We believe the current bond for James and Jennifer Crumbley remains appropriate as they have proven to be a flight risk," Chief Assistant Prosecutor David Williams said in a statement Wednesday. "We will ask the court to keep the current bond in place."
The prosecution maintains that the Crumbleys were on the run after learning they were being charged, though the Crumbleys say they never fled but left town on the night of the shooting “for their own safety” and that they planned to surrender the following day at their scheduled court hearing.
The parents are charged with involuntary manslaughter for what prosecutors have alleged amounts to gross negligence: They say the Crumbleys ignored a mentally ill son who was spiraling out of control, and instead of getting him medical help they bought him a gun.
Lawyers for the Crumbleys argue that's a misrepresentation of what really happened, maintaining their clients did look after their son, and that the events that unfolded at Oxford High School were not their fault.
The defense also challenged claims that the shooting suspect asked his parents to take him to a doctor, but that the parents refused.
Prosecutors have presented text messages from Ethan Crumbley to a friend, in which the teen states: "I am mentally and physically dying. ... I am going to ask my parents to go to the doctor tomorrow … but this time I’m going to tell them about the voices."
In another text to a friend, Ethan Crumbley allegedly wrote: "I actually asked my dad to take me to the doctor the other day, and he just gave me some pills and said to 'suck it up.' My mom laughed when I told her."
Prosecutors also have cited a journal entry in which Ethan Crumbley blamed his parents for what he was about to do.
"I will cause the biggest school shooting in Michigan’s history. I will kill everyone I f------ see," Ethan Crumbley allegedly wrote. "I have fully mentally lost it after years of fighting my dark side. My parents won’t listen to me about help or a therapist."
The defense maintains there is no proof of that.
"There is no evidence that the school shooter did ask his parents to go to a doctor, nor did he ever ask," defense attorneys argued in this week's court filing.
"It is clear the Crumbleys were absolutely shocked parents who had no reason to foresee what would happen," defense attorneys Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman argued in their filing. "While the prosecution selected certain pieces of information to portray them as bad and uncaring parents, after cross examination regarding these topics, the testimony revealed there was more to each situation than the prosecution intended to present."
The cross-examination the defense is referring to involves multiple witnesses who testified at the parents' last hearing, including a horse farm owner who told the court that Jennifer Crumbley was afraid her son was suicidal, and didn't want him to be alone after learning he was researching bullets on his phone at school.
The defense also cited the testimony of a police official who said that a school teacher contacted Jennifer Crumbley to let her know that her son had been looking up bullets in class.
"(But the teacher) ended the voice mail message by saying that Jennifer Crumbley did not need to call her back," the filing states.
The next day the Crumbleys' son was caught with alarming drawings on a math
paper, met with a school counselor and eventually his parents.
"After the meeting, the parents agreed that their son would begin counseling and he was allowed to remain at school. That afternoon, when the Crumbleys heard there was an active shooter at Oxford High School, James Crumbley drove home and found the Sig Sauer gun was missing along with some of the ammunition.
"He called 911 to report the missing gun and ammunition," the filing states.
The filing also noted that Jennifer Crumbley drove from work to Oxford that day, "believing that her son may have the gun at school after learning that it was missing from the home and "was afraid her son may kill himself as she texted him "don't do it."
The defense lawyers conceded in their filing that the father did buy a Sig Sauger handgun on Nov. 26 — four days before the massacre — and that the mother took her son to the shooting range the following day.
But they had no idea he would carry out a mass shooting, the defense maintains.
"Despite the devastating actions of their son, and the incredible losses he
caused for the victims’ families, friends, and community, Mr. and Mrs. Crumbley are not criminally liable," lawyers for the Crumbleys argued in the filing.
"The events of November 30, 2021 are undoubtedly the most tragic days the community, the victims, their family and friends, have ever seen. This case clearly involves a young man who was not on any person’s radar to be a threat to himself or any other person," lawyers for the Crumbleys argued in a filing this week. "This includes not only his parents’ radar, but also among staff at his high school, and the other individuals who testified (at the preliminary) exam."
The filing continued:
"The testimony showed that everyone involved was shocked and surprised, including Mr. and Mrs. Crumbley. There was no evidence admitted to show that the shooter had made himself a known threat to his parents or otherwise. The worst case scenario that Mrs. Crumbley believed was that (her son) could be suicidal, and she was taking that possibility seriously, particularly after the school counselor was concerned about suicidal ideation," defense lawyers argued.
Ethan Crumbley remains jailed on no bond in the Oakland County Jail, where he is being held on four first-degree murder and terrorism charges. Through his attorney, the suspect has pleaded not guilty and is planning an insanity defense.
The Crumbleys are due back in court April 19 for a pretrial hearing where their lawyers will argue for a lower bond.
Contact Tresa Baldas: email@example.com
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: James, Jennifer Crumbley seek lower bond in Oxford shooting case