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Michigan prosecutors oppose motions from Crumbley parents to void charges and change venue of trial

By Sonia Moghe, CNN

Prosecutors in Michigan have opposed several motions from the parents of accused Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley, including ones to move the trial venue and void the manslaughter charges against them, court filings show.

Jennifer and James Crumbley were each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter after their teen son allegedly killed four students at his Oxford, Michigan high school on November 30. They have both pleaded not guilty.

Oakland County prosecutors argued in a filing Wednesday that the involuntary manslaughter charges should remain, despite a defense motion to quash them.

“Defendants’ gross negligence allowed their son access to the murder weapon and allowed him to remain in school with that murder weapon. Their gross negligence was indeed a ‘substantial factor’ in bringing about the loss of human life,” prosecutors said in their response.

When Jennifer and James Crumbley were charged in December, prosecutors laid out a disturbing timeline to support the decision to charge them.

Just four days before their son allegedly opened fire in a school hallway full of students, James Crumbley bought the weapon his son would later use to kill four students and injure six other students and a teacher, prosecutors said. On or around that same day, Ethan Crumbley posted a photo of the gun, a 9mm Sig Sauer SP2022 semiautomatic pistol, with the caption, “Just got my new beauty today. SIG SAUER 9mm,” according to Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald.

On or around the next day, McDonald said, the alleged shooter’s mother posted on social media, “mom and son day testing out his new Christmas present.”

On the day of the shooting, the parents were called to the school after a teacher found a note that Ethan had drawn with images of a handgun, a bullet and a “drawing of a person who appears to have been shot twice and bleeding,” McDonald said. The parents “resisted” taking their son out of school that day, she said, and he returned to class.

Ethan Crumbley has pleaded not guilty to a slew of charges, including four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and 12 counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Last month, Jennifer and James Crumbley also asked the court to change the venue of their trial, arguing that media coverage of the case will deprive them of due process, and that it would be impossible to select an impartial jury because of the number of people in the community impacted by the shooting.

Prosecutors argued in a court filing Wednesday that pretrial coverage “does not inevitably lead to an unfair trial” and that an impartial jury can be selected through careful jury questioning.

McDonald also pushed back in a filing Wednesday on the Crumbleys’ request for a pre-trial gag order against prosecutors, saying their request is “consistent with the conduct that brings them before this Court — they are concerned only about themselves,” later saying in a statement that her office is focused on holding those responsible for the shooting accountable.

“We intend to prove the allegations we’ve made against the shooter’s parents beyond a reasonable doubt at trial,” McDonald said in the statement. “The responses we filed (Wednesday) make clear that we will continue to be zealous advocates for all of the Oxford victims, and that we will not be distracted from that mission.”

Prosecutors resist request to omit evidence

Prosecutors said the parents’ motions to keep certain pieces of evidence, including their son’s journal, text messages and internet searches, out of their trial should be denied because the evidence is relevant to the involuntary manslaughter charges they face.

The couple’s attorneys argued that allowing the journal entries to be included would create an “out-of-court substitute” for testimony. Prosecutors argued in response that Ethan Crumbley did not make the alleged statements in his journal with the purpose of “assisting in his parents’ prosecution,” and that the entries are written from his first-person point of view and discuss his own set of circumstances.

In one journal entry, Ethan Crumbley allegedly wrote, “I have access to the gun and the ammo.” In another entry, the couple’s son said, “I want help but my parent don’t listen to me so I can’t get any help.”

Among text messages the couple asked to exclude from their case are messages from April 2021 that prosecutors said are between Ethan and a friend where the teen discusses hearing voices and needing help, and says that he asked his father if he could go to a doctor. Prosecutors argued the messages show the couple’s son asked for help and they “failed to act.”

“I actually asked my dad to take to the Doctor yesterday but he just gave me some pills and told me to ‘Suck it up,'” one message said, according to court filings. Another message said his mom “laughed” when he told her his mental health struggles.

Defense attorneys for the Crumbleys argued the evidence in question is irrelevant to their charges and that it would be “unfairly prejudicial” to them, saying that they had no knowledge of their son’s texts, journal entries or internet searches.

The couple has also asked a judge to prevent prosecutors from seeking testimony at trial about their hobby of caring for horses, evidence of marital infidelity, a Nazi coin found at the family’s home, that their son played video games or evidence that would attack their “parenting actions.” Prosecutors responded in their filing Wednesday, arguing that it’s premature to bar them from asking specific questions during the trial.

A judge is expected to hear arguments on June 27.

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CNN’s Elizabeth Wolfe, Laura Ly and Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this report.

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