They just want to silence him, the prosecutor says

Against their wishes, James and Jennifer Crumbley will not be allowed to attend their son’s hearing to determine whether he will have a chance at parole or will spend the rest of his life in prison for a deadly school shooting.

Without explaining why, a judge this week denied the Crumbleys’ request to attend their son’s so-called Miller hearing — an event that their lawyers argued “is of paramount importance.”

“The Crumbleys remain very concerned about their son and ask this court to allow them to attend the Miller hearing,” defense attorneys Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman said in a court filing last month.

Jennifer Crumbley, sat to the left of attorney Mariell Lehman as her husband, James Crumbley sat to the right in the Oakland County courtroom of Judge Cheryl Matthews on March 22, 2022, regarding pretrial matters.

Jennifer Crumbley, sat to the left of attorney Mariell Lehman as her husband, James Crumbley sat to the right in the Oakland County courtroom of Judge Cheryl Matthews on March 22, 2022, regarding pretrial matters.

Prosecutors: Parents of Oxford shooter look out only for themselves

Hogwash, countered prosecutors, who blasted the Crumbleys over their request, alleging they wanted to attend the hearing only because they learned it would include testimony “that would be unfavorable to them.”

“This is (the Crumbleys’) attempt to confront and/or implore their son not to disclose the full circumstances of his upbringing,” Assistant Prosecutor Marc Keast wrote in a blistering court filing, in which he argued against having the Crumbleys at their son’s hearings next month.

In doing so, the prosecutor portrayed the Crumbleys as selfish parents looking out for only themselves, alleging they are using their son in an effort to spare themselves from a long prison sentence. He noted the parents face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter for buying their son the gun that he used in the Oxford High School shooting in November 2021. Their 16-year-old son faces a life sentence, without the possibility of parole.

“The idea that they are focused on reducing their own sentence at the expense of their son is shameful,” Keast wrote, noting the Crumbleys also plan to call their son as a witness in their case.

more: Appeals court orders Crumbleys to stand trial in Oxford school shooting

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Harsh court filings continue

Keast’s filing highlights what continues to be a legal slugfest between two sides, with much at stake: The Crumbleys are fighting for their freedom, while the prosecution is trying to accomplish what has never been done before — hold parents criminally liable for a mass shooting.

In doing so, however, the prosecutor’s office has irked the Crumbleys with its scorching court filings and news conferences — so much that the defense asked the judge to intervene. That led to a gag order prohibiting both sides from publicly discussing the case.

The mudslinging, henceforth, continues in the court docket, if the prosecutor’s latest filing is any indication.

“These defendants abandoned their son the moment that they thought charges against them were possible,” wrote Keast, who scoffed at the Crumbleys’ assertions that they were “very concerned” for their son.

“They left it to the court to find him an attorney. They emptied his bank account. And they used that money to find themselves an attorney and flee from apprehension.”

Keast, in urging the judge to deny the Crumbleys’ request to attend their son’s hearing, stressed: The parents’ “concern remains for themselves, not their son.”

“As Jennifer Crumbley put it on the day of the shooting, the shooter ruined his own life, ‘now we have to take care of ourselves,’ ” Keast wrote.

more: New Oxford shooting detail: Killer texted mom ‘I love you’ 10 minutes before attack

Oxford High School shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley pleads guilty for his role in the school shooting that occurred on November 30, 2021, during his appearance at the Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac on Monday, October 24, 2022.

Oxford High School shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley pleads guilty for his role in the school shooting that occurred on November 30, 2021, during his appearance at the Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac on Monday, October 24, 2022.

In her one-page order filed Thursday, Oakland County Circuit Judge Cheryl Matthews made no mention of the prosecutor’s arguments, or the defense team’s. Rather, she responded to the Crumbleys’ request to attend their son’s hearing with one word: Denied.

The Crumbleys are accused of ignoring a troubled son who prosecutors say was spiraling out of control. But instead of getting their son help, they bought him a gun as an early Christmas present. Days later, Ethan Crumbley used that gun to kill four students at Oxford High School. Another seven individuals were injured.

The Crumbleys have long maintained that they had no idea their son would commit a school shooting, that the gun at issue was safely stored at home, and that they are not responsible for the deaths of the four students killed by their son. Their lawyers are still trying to get the case thrown out, arguing the charges are overreaching and unwarranted.

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The Michigan Court of Appeals last month concluded there was enough evidence to send the case to trial, even though the Crumbleys will appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

According to their lawyers’ court filings, since the shooting, the Crumbleys have not been allowed to have contact with their son, though family members and their lawyers have provided them with updates on his well-being.

Ethan Crumbley, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, pleaded guilty to all charges in October, admitting he carried out an act of terror that killed four classmates: Justin Shilling, 17; Hannah St. Juliana, 14; Tate Myre, 16; and Madisyn Baldwin, 17. Six other students and a teacher were also injured.

Crumbley’s Miller hearing is scheduled for May 1.

Contact Tresa Baldas: [email protected]

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: James, Jennifer Crumbley banned from school shooter son’s hearing

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