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Michigan suspect’s parents appear in court to face involuntary manslaughter charges

James Crumbley looks past his attorney to his wife in court
James Crumbley looks past his attorney toward his wife during a court hearing in Rochester Hills, Mich., on Tuesday.
(Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)

The father of a Michigan boy charged with fatally shooting four students at Oxford High School mouthed, “I love you,” to his wife Tuesday as the couple appeared in court to face involuntary manslaughter charges.

James and Jennifer Crumbley are accused of giving 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley access to a gun and failing to intervene when they were confronted with his disturbing drawings a few hours before the Nov. 30 shooting.

Judge Julie Nicholson granted a request by prosecutors and defense lawyers to postpone until Feb. 8 a key hearing that will determine whether the elder Crumbleys will face a trial.

Prosecutor Karen McDonald said she needs more time to collect evidence from investigators and share it with the defense.

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“We have police narratives, we have digital evidence, we have video evidence,” McDonald later told reporters. “We have viewed a lot of it, certainly enough to establish charges here. But there’s also more investigation that needs to be done.”

In court, the Crumbleys sat on the outside of their two lawyers. But when the lawyers got up to speak privately to the judge, James Crumbley mouthed, “I love you,” to his wife.

The 15-year-old boy’s attorney argued that her client should be moved back to a juvenile facility, saying he ‘should not be considered a menace.’

The parents were arrested Dec. 4 hiding in a commercial building in Detroit, hours after charges were announced. They remain in jail, unable to pay bonds of $500,000, though defense attorney Shannon Smith said she would ask for a lower amount Jan. 7.

Ethan Crumbley is charged as an adult with murder, terrorism and other crimes. Besides the deaths of four students, six students and one teacher were injured.

The teen had a brief court hearing Monday and will return Jan. 7. His lawyer, too, needs more time to review evidence.

James and Jennifer Crumbley are accused of failing to step in on the day of the tragedy despite being confronted with a drawing and chilling message — “blood everywhere” — that was found at the boy’s desk.

The Crumbleys committed “egregious” acts, from buying a gun on Black Friday and making it available to their son to resisting his removal from school, McDonald said.

Oxford High School, about 30 miles north of Detroit, has been closed since the shooting. Athletes began returning to competition Monday.

Other schools in the Oxford district were closed Tuesday out of “an abundance of caution” after an online threat was directed at a middle school, officials said. Online threats against Michigan schools have occurred since the shooting and led to closings elsewhere as well as charges.

Oxford will hold its first school board meeting Tuesday evening since the shooting.


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