Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald is trying to determine if the parents of Ethan Crumbley, the Michigan school shooting suspect, had further knowledge about the teen’s rampage plan and there is negligence on their side. If this is the case, they can face more serious charges.
“If there is evidence that they had a deeper level of knowledge, you may even see them become more aiders and abetters than mere individuals with a duty to act with an omission of intervention,” said criminal appeals and corporate lawyer Matthew Barhoma, according to The Sun.
15-year-old Ethan Crumbley has been charged with terrorism and first-degree murder for fatally shooting four students at Oxford High School on Nov. 30. The sophomore used the weapon freshly bought by his father just four days before.
Prosecutors later went after his parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, with four counts each of involuntary manslaughter. They were arrested on Dec. 4 after allegedly trying to flee police detention in Detroit.
Lawyer Barhoma said it was logical for the prosecutors to demand responsibility from the parents.
He noted that they found text messages between Ethan and his mother before the shooting, where she told him, “Ethan. Don’t do it.” There was also a 911 call from his father who suspected his son could be the shooter.
Since the Crumbleys allegedly tried to avoid detention, Barhoma suggested the prosecutors would also add further charges of culpability.
Ethan, who is liable to life in prison if convicted, can still seek a lighter sentence if his parents are found to have influenced his behavior.
“After all, he is a 15-year-old child. Usually, no one exerts a greater influence on a child’s life than their parents,” Barhoma said, noting that Ethan could “claim delusion or insanity for the upbringing his parents gave him.”
According to the Detroit Free Press, one neighbor had accused the Crumbley couple of neglecting their son when he was around 8 to 9 years old.
The neighbor, who had alerted Child Protective Services about the family before, said Ethan would be left alone at home while the pair went out bar-hopping.
“When they were gone, he would come knock on our door. They didn’t leave him with a phone,” the neighbor said.
Now, the parents as well as their son are locked up, each in isolation, as Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said last Saturday, Dec. 4.
Bouchard said, “No talking. No communication. They are all three in isolation,” as Detroit Free Press reported.
Both Jennifer and James Crumbley pleaded not guilty in court on Dec. 4.