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Ethan Crumbley’s parents ask judge to quash charges against them

<i>David Guralnick/Detroit News/AP</i><br/>Jennifer and James Crumbley
David Guralnick/Detroit News/AP
Jennifer and James Crumbley

By Laura Ly, CNN

Jennifer and James Crumbley, the parents of Michigan school shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley, have asked a judge to void the charges against them for their alleged roles in the November 30 shooting at Oxford High School that left four students dead.

The parents have pleaded not guilty to four counts of involuntary manslaughter after prosecutors accused them of giving their son easy access to a gun and disregarding signs that he was a threat.

Attorneys for the Crumbleys said in court documents that the charges have no legal justification and that the couple should not be held responsible for the killings their son is accused of committing.

“The Crumbleys did not counsel [Ethan] in the commission of the school shooting or act jointly with the [Ethan] in any way; to the contrary, the Crumbleys had no knowledge that their son intended to commit multiple homicides…Nor did any common enterprise exist,” attorneys Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman wrote. “Certainly, if the prosecution could directly link Mr. or Mrs. Crumbley to the mass shooting, they would be prosecuted for first-degree murder as if they had directly committed the offense. However, because the prosecution cannot support such a claim, they are left attempting to fit a square peg in a round hole, and the information must be quashed.”

Four additional motions were also filed Wednesday and Thursday, including one asking a judge to exclude various pieces of evidence the Crumbleys think are irrelevant, and another that requested a judge bar prosecutors from publicly discussing the case.

Oakland County Chief Assistant Prosecutor David Williams said in a statement Thursday that “the motions filed Wednesday do not raise any new arguments or evidence. The prosecution will respond to the motions as permitted by the court at the appropriate time.” He added that “the prosecution remains very confident in its case.”

Defense attorneys argued in court documents that the charges against their clients “are borne out of a desire to hold persons accountable for criminal acts, where no legal justification exists to do so.”

“To extend the law in such a way involves important policy decisions of broad social consequences, reaching far beyond this single case. Such a task, then, should be resolved through the legislative process, and not judicial innovation,” they wrote.

The evidence the Crumbleys want to exclude:

• Ethan Crumbley’s 22-page journal in which he allegedly wrote about his plans to shoot up Oxford High School

• Text messages between Ethan Crumbley and a friend in which he allegedly told the friend that his mom laughed at him when he asked for help, and his father told him to “suck it up.”

• Ethan Crumbley’s internet searches and evidence related to his Instagram posts

• Discussion of the Crumbleys’ hobby of riding horses and their alleged marital discord

• Testimony and evidence related to a bird head found in a jar in Ethan Crumbley’s bedroom

• Testimony related to parents’ involvement with alcohol, marijuana and a coin from Nazi Germany found in their home

• Testimony relating to the time Ethan Crumbley spent playing video games or “any other evidence that would attack the parenting actions of the Defendants in general but do not involve violence and guns.”

Smith and Lehman wrote that some of this evidence is “irrelevant” to the charges of involuntary manslaughter and including it would be “unfairly prejudicial to Mr. and Mrs. Crumbley, who did not have knowledge of or write the journal, had no knowledge of or participation in sending the texts, and/or have anything to do with [Ethan’s] horrific internet searches.”

The Crumbleys’ attorneys also noted that Ethan wrote in his journal that he hoped his actions would be “so big that sleepy f–king Joe Biden will have to sleezy make an apologie [sic] to people” and also wrote that “Hopefully [his] shooting will cause Biden to get impeached.”

They cautioned that “in recent years attitudes about US political leaders including President Biden and the candidate he defeated, President Trump, have become increasingly polarized” and they do not want a juror’s personal political beliefs to prejudice them for or against the Crumbleys.

A hearing before Judge Cheryl A. Matthews on the motions has been tentatively scheduled for June 27, according to court documents.

A tentative trial date has been set for October 24, according to the Oakland County Prosecutor’s office.

Ethan Crumbley has pleaded not guilty as an adult to four counts of first-degree murder — along with an array of other charges, including one count of terrorism causing death. His attorneys have said they plan to use an insanity defense at trial, which is tentatively scheduled for September.

Officers testify on items found in home, journal

In February, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Matthew Peschke and Det. Adam Stoyek testified about the search of the family’s home.

Peschke said he found a number of items in Ethan Crumbley’s bedroom, including a coin in a plastic covering — with a “Nazi symbol” on it — and gun range targets taped to the walls.

Stoyek testified that an empty gun case and empty ammunition box was found “seated on the bed” in the master bedroom. Stoyek said there did not appear to be any security lock on the case.

James and Jennifer Crumbley were present when police searched the home, Stoyek said.

Ethan Crumbley’s backpack — with his journal inside — was found in a bathroom at Oxford High School on the day of the shooting, said Lt. Timothy Willis.

Willis said every page in that journal that was written on contained references to a shooting Ethan Crumbley was planning at Oxford High School. There were 21 pages written or drawn on in the journal, Willis said.

According to testimony, the last entry by Ethan Crumbley in the journal was dated November 29 — the day before the shooting — and said, “The shooting is tomorrow. I have access to the gun and the ammo.”

Other entries in Ethan Crumbley’s journal include:

“The first victim has to be a pretty girl with a future so she can suffer like me.”

“I have fully, mentally lost it after years of fighting with my dark side. My parents won’t listen to me about help or a therapist.”

“I’m sorry for this mom and dad, I’m not trying to hurt you by doing this. I have to do this.”

The journal also included drawings of bullets, a severed head and what appeared to be a “demon,” Willis said.

James Crumbley cried during the testimony about the journal.

When cross-examined, Willis confirmed there were no messages in the journal written by the student’s parents or anything that indicated that he told them his alleged plans for the shooting.

There was no indication from the journal that said how Ethan Crumbley gained access to the gun and ammunition allegedly used in the school shooting or any proof that Jennifer or James Crumbley gave him the gun, Willis said.

Text messages say the teen asked for help

As part of the investigation, an Oakland County sheriff’s detective extracted data and texts from the phones of Ethan Crumbley and his parents.

Det. Edward Wagrowski said he found messages from Ethan Crumbley to a friend saying he had asked his parents to take him to a doctor after he was having hallucinations and hearing voices.

Ethan told his friend that in response to that request, his father gave him pills and told him to “suck it up.” According to the phone messages, Ethan Crumbley told his friend that his mother laughed at him, Wagrowski testified.

The detective said Ethan Crumbley texted his friend, saying his mother believed he takes drugs and that she doesn’t worry about his mental health.

“They make me feel like I’m the problem,” Ethan Crumbley texted. “My mom makes everyone feel like a piece of sh*t.”

Shannon Smith, an attorney representing Ethan’s mother, cross-examined the detective.

Wagrowski confirmed he did not find any text messages between James and Jennifer Crumbley about concerns that Ethan would shoot up a school or hurt anyone. He said there were multiple texts discussing Ethan Crumbley’s schoolwork and rides home.

While there were some texts between Ethan Crumbley and a friend discussing guns and joking about shooting up a school, there were no such texts from Ethan to either of his parents, Wagrowski said.

“In the grand scheme of all of the messages (between Ethan and his friend) … there is nothing to indicate that Jennifer or James were told or were aware of a plan to commit a school shooting like what happened at Oxford High School on 11/30?” Smith asked the detective.

“Correct,” Wagrowski answered.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Nicki Brown. Amy Roberts, Holly Yan, Amir Vera, Julian Cummings, Tanika Gray and Adam Jones contributed to this report.

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