Rochester Hills – Lawyers for the accused shooter’s parents at Oxford High School on Thursday pushed back against claims the couple ignored warning signs of their son’s troubling behavior and said they were unaware of multiple accounts of social media describing “guns and ghost-like characters”.
Shannon Smith, attorney for James and Jennifer Crumbley, opened the second day of a preliminary examination for the couple by questioning Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Detective Edward Wagrowski about testimony he gave earlier this month -ci on the exchanges of SMS and publications on social networks between the parents, with their son and between the teenager and a friend.
The teenager, via text exchanges with a friend, she said, spoke of ‘not getting caught’ for her actions, including allegedly torturing a family of birds and beheading at least one of them.
“There’s no way of knowing if Jennifer and James even saw these photos,” Smith said, referring to the social media activity of Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old second student at Oxford High. School charged in November 30 rampage.
“Even beyond that, there’s no way of knowing if they (the parents) knew of any other existing Instagram accounts,” she added.
Smith read text messages between the parents reflecting the couple’s mutual alarm over an alleged drawing of their son on school math paper depicting a gun and a corpse.
“There’s absolutely nothing in there to suggest… ‘our son is going to commit a mass shooting,'” Smith pointed out, and Wagrowski agreed.
She also told Wagrowski and the court about messages between Ethan Crumbley and a friend he spoke of “not getting caught,” including for his alleged mutilation of a bird.
“He talks about trying to wait for his parents to leave the house so he can do things and not get caught,” Smith said. “There’s certainly nothing in those texts that show ‘my mom and dad know I cut off a bird’s head and help me do these things.'”
The preliminary examination of James and Jennifer Crumbley began earlier this month before 52-3 District Court Judge Julie Nicholson. The two men are charged with four counts each of manslaughter in the shooting which left four students dead and six other students and a teacher injured.
The hearing will determine whether the couple will stand trial.
Smith asked Wagrowski on Thursday if James or Jennifer had interacted with Ethan Crumbley on his known Instagram account, beyond following him. He testified that they did not, and that they did not follow two other Ethan accounts, he confirmed.
Smith then asked Wagrowski about an Instagram video showing Ethan holding a gun. There is a lock on the gun.
“You can’t tell if the parents were there, if the friends were there, or if Ethan was alone, can you?” said Smith. He accepted. She also noted that “it’s not illegal to take video with a gun.”
Smith cited a November 30 Facebook message exchange sent by Jennifer to James. “CALL NOW,” she wrote. Jennifer had also sent her husband the drawings that Ethan allegedly made, Smith said.
James replied: “My God, WTF”
Smith noted that the texts admitted as evidence in the case between James and Jennifer span from September 2020 to November 30, 2021, the day of the shooting.
Prosecutors claimed Crumbley’s parents were distracted and reckless as their son allegedly flew away. But Smith sought to dispute that, using the over-year-old chain of text messages, arguing that “in the grand scheme of things, they (James and Jennifer) frequently chat about their son”.
“If there were any texts indicating that they were concerned that their son might become a homicide, that would have been included,” Smith said.
Continued:Four revelations about Crumbleys on day one of Oxford shooting hearing
The Oakland County District Attorney’s Office presented a series of witnesses earlier this month who said the couple knew their 15-year-old son Ethan was lonely and troubled in the days leading up to the shooting. and the morning it happened.
Prosecutors described the couple as more concerned with their work, their marital issues and the care of two horses they owned on a ranch in Metamora.
Marc Keast, an assistant Oakland County prosecutor, fired back Thursday against the defense allegations, noting that Ethan texted his friend about his home life and mental health. In a message, Ethan writes “everyone makes me feel like the problem”.
“It’s like asking to go to the doctor,” Ethan texted. “Then seeing my mother laugh when I told her.”
Wagrowski testified that Ethan and a friend “played a lot of video games” “all hours of the night.”
Keast quoted a text from Ethan when he said he got only 17 hours of sleep in five days.
“I need help,” Ethan wrote to his friend. “I was thinking of calling 911 so I could go to the hospital. But my parents would be pissed off.
Keast noted that Ethan, in exchanges with his juvenile friend, talked about being “f—– up” and “his dark side”.
He also talked about trying to bring things to his parents. Including April 5, 2021, Keast said, when his mom suggested he was “so angry and sad all the time because I’m on drugs,” Ethan wrote to his friend, and said his mother “don’t worry about my sanity.”
“My mom makes everyone feel like a piece of s—,” Ethan wrote. “I actually asked my dad to take me to the doctor yesterday, but he just gave me pills and told me to ‘suck’.”
Ethan Crumbley is charged with 24 counts including first degree murder and terrorism in the mass shooting.
Prosecutors argued that James and Jennifer Crumbley failed to properly secure a gun purchased for their son as a Christmas present and disregarded warning signs reported by school officials regarding his mental health.
The couple’s defense lawyers say the parents are devastated by the tragedy and say prosecutors “choose facts” to show an inaccurate picture of the couple.
Testimony from earlier this month revealed that Jennifer Crumbley playfully berated her son for being called to the school office the day before the shooting after he was caught in class looking for bullets on his cellphone. She assured him that he was in no trouble. The text exchange between mother and son was shared during the exam following a one-minute, 25-second voicemail message left on the mother’s phone by a school official about the Ethan’s trip to the office.
“Seriously? Looking for balls at school? Jennifer Crumbley wrote in the Nov. 29 text read aloud by Oakland County Sheriff‘s Office Detective Edward Wagrowski.
Ethan told his mum he was looking for balls ‘because I was curious’, describing his behavior as ‘completely harmless’.
Jennifer Crumbley wrote to her son in response: “LOL I’m not mad. You have to learn not to get caught.”
Testimony from the first day of the exam revealed that the Crumbleys arrived at the school on the morning of November 30 for a meeting about their son’s alleged drawing. Colleagues of Jennifer Crumbley testified that she shared a screenshot of the drawing with them. Filming began less than two hours later.
Despite pressure, the couple reportedly refused to bring their son home. Instead, he was allowed to return to class with a backpack that investigators believe contained the weapon used in the shooting.
The couple’s lawyers argued that James and Jennifer Crumbley believed the gun was safe in a bedroom. James Crumbley also made a frantic call to 911 after hearing about the school shooting and realizing the gun was missing.
If tried and ultimately convicted, the couple could face up to 15 years in prison.
Their son, who has pleaded not guilty and notified the Oakland County Circuit Court of his intention to assert an insanity defense, faces the rest of his life in prison.
Continued:Should Ethan Crumbley, accused of shooting at Oxford school, be jailed?