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The parents of Michigan school shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley made their first teary-eyed, in-person appearance court appearance Tuesday at a probable cause hearing.
Video footage from the hearing shows the two sitting close to one another, separated only by their attorneys. At one point in the hearing, the attorneys were asked to approach the bench. The father, James Crumbley, could be seen using this opportunity to mouth the words “I love you” to his wife, Jennifer Crumbley.
A decision was made during the hearing to schedule a preliminary examination for Feb. 8th, 2022. Nearly two dozen witnesses are set to testify during the examination.
According to the law offices of Chartier & Nyamfukudza, P.L.C., the purpose of a preliminary examination “is for the judge to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that a felony occurred and that the accused is the person who committed it.”
This is a fundamental hearing for the parents, both of whom are facing involuntary manslaughter charges, because it’s their only chance — aside for being acquitted in a trial — for them to escape prosecution.
The Department of Justice notes that a preliminary examination “must be held within 14 days of the initial appearance if the defendant is being held in jail.”
The requirement was waved in this case after both the prosecution and the parents’ lawyers agreed that more time is needed for them to sift through all the evidence.
“The volume of discovery in this case is staggering,” the prosecution argued, as reported by CNN.
“Prosecutors gave defense attorneys some 500 pages of discovery on Monday in what McDonald called the ‘first wave.’ Her office has another 40 gigabytes of data to process including reports, surveillance video, recorded witness statements and other documents,” according to CNN.
The prosecution also cited the holiday season, arguing that they don’t feel it appropriate to interview survivors and grieving family members during such an already emotionally charged time.
The only good news for the Crumbleys is that the judge agreed to schedule a bond hearing for them on Jan. 7th. Both are currently being held on $500,000 bond each. Their attorneys hope to drastically lower the bond.
Their son, Ethan, meanwhile remains in custody at an adult jail with no bond. He faces first-degree murder and terrorism charges over a mass shooting at Oxford High School late last month that left four dead and seven injured.
All three are in fact staying at the same jail, though in Ethan’s case, he’s being separated from the adult population for obvious reasons.
CNN notes that Ethan “was initially being held at Oakland County Children’s Village, a juvenile detention facility.” But after he was charged as an adult, he was relocated to the Oakland County Jail.
“On Monday, attorneys for Crumbley asked that he be transferred from the jail back to the Children’s Village. Deborah McKelvy, who was appointed the teen’s guardian ad litem, said Crumbley should be moved because he can hear adults, which violates the statute for minors being held in adult facilities,” according to CNN.
The judge refused this request, but the prosecution did agree to personally speak with jail officials about Ethan overhearing adult inmates.
Judge Nancy Carniak doubles down on earlier decision to keep Crumbley at Oakland County Jail..says only possible issue is that he can hear and see adult inmates
— Jessica Dupnack (@JDupnackFOX2) December 13, 2021
Prosecutor argues against moving Crumbley back to juvenile facility citing recent escape of inmates there..does not think it at all appropriate to send him to schooling
— Jessica Dupnack (@JDupnackFOX2) December 13, 2021
His parents have been targeted for prosecution based partially on the allegation that they’d provided him with “unfettered access to the gun he’s accused of using” in the mass shooting, according to CNN.
Some of the evidence that’s already been publicly released also shows that they’d done nothing to prevent their son from allegedly shooting up his school.
In announcing charges against them about two weeks ago, Oakland County Prosecuting Attorney Karen McDonald had zeroed in on their actions just prior to the shooting.
“[The day before the shooting] a teacher at the Oxford High School observed Ethan Crumbley searching ammunition on his cellphone during class and reported the same to school officials. Jennifer Crumbley was contacted via voice mail by school personnel regarding that son’s inappropriate internet search,” she announced.
“School personnel indicate they followed that voice mail up with an email but received no response from either parent. Thereafter, Jennifer Crumbley exchanged text messages about the incident with her son on that day, saying: ‘LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.'”
Shortly after the charges were announced, reports emerged that the two had absconded and were thus fugitives. This led to a manhunt that came to a swift end the following morning when authorities apprehended the pair at a commercial building in Detroit.
Parents of Michigan school shooting suspect arrested after manhunt; past troubles with law emerge https://t.co/1lYz45SMaJ
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) December 4, 2021
Their lawyers reportedly claimed at the time that it was all a big misunderstanding and that they hadn’t fled — that they’d merely “left town for their own safety and were returning to be arraigned,” as reported by The New York Times.
This turned out to be false.
“They appeared to be hiding” inside the art studio in Detroit where they were found, Detroit Police Chief James White said at the time.
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