Jennifer Crumbley was having an affair while her son battled loneliness and often snuck off with her lover during breaks from work, a witness testified Tuesday during the preliminary exam for Jennifer and James Crumbley in 52/3 District Court in Rochester Hills. .
Amanda Holland, who worked in the same real estate office as Jennifer Crumbley, said Jennifer Crumbley confided in her that she and her husband had marital issues and were contemplating a separation. She testified that both spouses had been seeing other people, and that Jennifer Crumbley told her that she saw another during man who during morning work hours, would pick her up at the office and the two would go to a Costco across the street.
The Crumbleys, though, got back together. Holland said that Jennifer Crumbley told her that around their anniversary, the couple took a casino trip and after returning home, decided to work things out.
Holland is a witness for the prosecution in the Oxford High School shooting case. Her testimony bolsters the prosecution's allegations that Jennifer and James Crumbley ignored a troubled son who was spiraling out of control, and instead focused on their own selfish needs, including having extramarital affairs and taking care of their horses.
Her testimony was part of a daylong preliminary exam during which a judge will decide whether there's enough evidence to order Jennifer and James Crumbley to stand trial. They are facing involuntary manslaughter charges for allegedly buying their son the gun that police say was used in the Nov. 30 shooting that killed four students and injured six other students and a teacher.
Prosecutors also have alleged that the Crumbleys ignored many red flags that their son was depressed and needed help.
Holland testified about some of those alleged red flags at the couple's preliminary exam, telling the court that Jennifer Crumbley had previously expressed concerns that her son would be lonely after his only friend moved away. She also testified that Jennifer Crumbley headed to a horse barn almost every day after work to check on her horses.
Holland recalled her encounter with Jennifer Crumbley on the morning before the shooting, when school officials called the parents to the school about a troubling drawing their son had made.
Ethan Crumbley had drawn a photo of a gun on a math homework sheet, along with the words: "The thoughts won't stop. help me." His parents refused to take him home, prosecutors have said, and the boy was allowed to return to class.
When Jennifer Crumbley returned to work, Holland said she showed her the drawing of the gun.
"She said that she felt like a failure as a parent," Holland said. "I told her I thought it was scary that he would draw that. She agreed."
On cross-examination, Holland noted that Jennifer Crumbley's comments about feeling like a failure "seemed a little sarcastic."
Holland, who often overheard Jennifer Crumbley's phone conversations at work, testified that she never heard Jennifer Crumbley talk about taking her son to a doctor or a therapist. But she did hear her talk about her horses a lot, and how her horses needed treatment.
On cross-examination from defense attorney Shannon Smith, Holland conceded that she and Jennifer Crumbley were not friends and talked mostly about little things.
"Jen didn't sit down with you and give you a play by play about their marriage, correct?" Smith asked.
"Correct," Holland answered, but added, "she went into detail about certain issues."
For example, Holland said, Jennifer Crumbley told her she was seeing someone else, and that she saw him during work hours.
On cross-examination, Smith noted that Holland's knowledge of Ethan Crumbley was "very limited," and that she was unaware of many things involving the school shooting.
"Were you aware that school officials told Jennifer that (Ethan) is not a threat to anyone?" Smith asked, drawing a loud objection from the prosecution, which maintains the school never said that.
Smith got the witness to acknowledge that much of her opinion is based on hindsight. For example, Holland testified that if Ethan Crumbley were her child, she would have brought him home from school after being found with that gun drawing.
Smith noted that Holland, though, didn't call police herself and say, "The parents didn’t do anything about this drawing."
"This is hindsight," Smith told the witness. "You know more now. ... You had no idea that a school shooting was going to take place after seeing that drawing on the math paper."
"No I did not," Holland answered.
That's precisely the argument that the defense has been making about the Crumbleys — that they had no way of knowing that their son was going to shoot up his school that day.
Ethan Crumbley is facing terrorism and first-degree murder charges. His lawyers have said they are planning an insanity defense.
Contact Tresa Baldas: email@example.com
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Jennifer Crumbley talked about 'lonely' son at work, witness says