A Michigan judge ruled this week that the parents of Oxford High School shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley would be tried separately. This decision was made after two new witnesses were brought forward to testify in the case.
James Crumbley and Jennifer Crumbley each face four counts of involuntary homicide after their 15-year-old son fatally shot and injured four students at a high school using the gun that his parents claimed was locked up.
After reviewing the Oct. 31 interviews of two new Florida witnesses, Shannon Smith, the attorney for Jennifer Crumbley said that “severance is now required in this case as the prosecution plans to call either one or both of them” in a court filing on Monday.
Smith refused to disclose what the new witnesses had said during their interviews but argued that splitting the trials of James and Jennifer Crumbley would allow the court to avoid prejudice and ensure that both defendants receive a fair trial so that accusations made against one defendant don’t impact the outcome for the other.
The prosecution wrote that Jennifer Crumbley was entitled to a “fair trial” because the evidence presented against her codefendant (James Crumbley) at trial could be detrimental to the defendant.
The Prosecutors noted the “significant costs” for taxpayers of separating the defendants.
The cost of separate trials for this case is significant to the victims, witnesses, and taxpayers, as well as the additional jurors. But the Constitution gives the defendant the right to do so, and people agree.
Smith also claimed in a court filing on Monday that Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald had committed misconduct in an interview she gave to local news outlet WXYZ in November, in which McDonald stated that her office does not prosecute cases they don’t think [they] are able to prove beyond a doubt.
The defense lawyer said McDonald broke the rules of the court, which state that lawyers cannot publicly “express any opinion regarding the guilt or innocence” of a defendant. Smith also claimed that McDonald had violated her duty to the prosecution, which was to give the accused the benefit of any reasonable doubt. ”
According to Smith, the defense wants Judge Cheryl Matthews to order McDonald to appear in court to explain “why she did not comply with Court orders prior to the hearing.”
In their Tuesday filing, the prosecutors described the accusations as “frivolous and perplexing,” and said that nothing in the filing of the defense showed that they had violated court orders. The prosecutors added that McDonald, as the top prosecutor in the county, has a duty to inform the public and that there is no gag in Ethan’s case, as there was in his parent’s cases.
A gag order has been issued to all parties involved in the case, which prevents them from discussing publicly any details about the allegations against the Crumbleys.
James Crumbley and Jennifer Crumbley allegedly bought a gun for their son before the shooting. Jennifer Crumbley stated in a post on social media that the firearm was a gift for Ethan. They are accused of refusing to send their son home the morning of the shooting despite the complaints of the school counselors’ office.
The parents were charged with involuntary murder, McDonald stated during Ethan’s hearing held in September.
Oakland County judge Kwame Rowe decided in September that Ethan could be sentenced to life without parole in prison.