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Parents of alleged school shooter have hearing to decide if they will face trial

Oakland County Sheriff's Office

(ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich.) -- The parents of Ethan Crumbley, the teenager accused of fatally shooting four students at a Michigan school, appeared in court on Tuesday for a hearing that will determine whether the two will face trial. The court adjourned at the end of the day and will resume the hearing on Feb. 24 at 8:30 a.m.

James and Jennifer Crumbley are accused of involuntary manslaughter after allegedly neglecting or failing to recognize warning signs about their son in the months before the shooting.

The prosecution asked District Court Judge Julie Nicholson to restrict communication between James and Jennifer Crumbley. The request came after the two were seen communicating in a court proceeding over Zoom, which the court granted.

Attorneys for the Crumbley parents asked the judge to postpone the hearing so they can further prepare, but the judge denied their motion.

James Crumbley had purchased the gun used in the rampage days before the shooting, according to prosecutors.

Detective Edward Wagrowski from the Computer Crimes Unit at the Oakland County Sheriff's Office testified about evidence he was able to gather from the Crumbleys' phones, which allegedly showed that Ethan Crumbley was seeing people and hearing voices, according to texts submitted into evidence by prosecutors.

In March 2021, Ethan Crumbley texted Jennifer Crumbley, saying there is someone in the house and asks her when she will be coming home. On another day in that month, Ethan texted his mother saying he was worried about being home and that he thinks there is a demon in the house throwing bowls, according to text messages retrieved from their phones by Wagrowski.

His mother does not respond to these messages and Ethan responds "can you at least text back," but she still doesn't, according to evidence gathered from her phone by Wagrowski.

A text exchange retrieved from Ethan Crumbley's phone between him and an unnamed juvenile, Ethan Crumbley said he will talk to his parents and ask them again if he could see a doctor, saying he will tell them he was hearing voices, according to texts Wagrowski found on the alleged shooter's phone.

"I only told them about the people I saw," Ethan Crumbley said in a following message to the same individual on April 5, 2021 according to evidence gathered by Wagrowski.

"Like I am mentally and physically dying," read another message from the alleged shooter sent to the same person that same day, according to evidence gathered by Wagrowski.

By looking at his internet search history, Wagrowski testified that he found Ethan Crumbley visited a website (the prosecution refrained from naming) to look at graphic content from school shootings and bird mutilations 421 times in November 2021.

Wagrowski also testified that police found two guns (a .22-caliber Kel-tec and a small derringer) at the Crumbley home, aside from the one allegedly used in the shooting.

Deputies refused to remove the belly-chains from Crumbleys during Tuesday's hearing due to their "national security status," one of the deputies told the judge. This came when attorneys for the Crumbleys requested their hands be uncuffed so they could communicate with their attorneys by writing notes.

Kira Pennocki, the owner of a barn where the Crumbleys keep their horses, testified that Jennifer Crumbley had called her son "weird" and said he was "not out doing things like normal kids."

Pennocki said Jennifer Crumbley told her that her son only had one friend and that he spent a lot of time online or playing games.

The prosecution showed text exchanges between Pennocki and Jennifer Crumbley in the days leading up to the shooting and after the shooting.

"My son ruined so many lives today," Jennifer Crumbley said in a text to Pennocki on the day of the shooting.

Another witness, Andrew Smith, who worked with Jennifer Crumbley detailed his interactions with her on the day of the shooting.

On the day of the shooting, Smith said Jennifer Crumbly texted him pleading for her job. "I need my job, please don't judge me for what my son did," she said in the text, according to Smith.

Ethan Crumbley, will appear next in court on Feb. 22. He was charged with multiple felony charges, including terrorism, in connection with the rampage that killed four students and injured several others on Nov. 30. The 15-year-old was charged as an adult.

 

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