Jennifer Crumbley case: MI shooter, who intends to plead Fifth, will not testify in mother's trial

ByNadine El-Bawab ABCNews logo
Monday, January 29, 2024
Mother of MI school shooter responsible for deaths: prosecutor
James and Jennifer Crumbley have pleaded not guilty to four charges of involuntary manslaughter for their alleged roles in their son's school shooting.

PONTIAC, Mich. -- Jennifer Crumbley's manslaughter trial continued on Friday with Judge Cheryl Matthews saying she will prohibit the defense from calling her son, school shooter Ethan Crumbley, to the stand because he intends to plead the Fifth Amendment on the stand.

Ethan Crumbley's attorneys have also said they have asserted privilege over his medical records, keeping them from being admitted as evidence.

Ethan Crumbley, who was 15 years old at the time of the shooting, was sentenced to life without parole in December after he pleaded guilty to 24 charges, including first-degree premeditated murder and terrorism causing death, in connection with the 2021 shooting at Oxford High School that left four students dead and seven others injured.

Jennifer and James Crumbley, the shooter's parents, are each facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter for their alleged roles in the shooting.

On Thursday, it was revealed that Jennifer Crumbley intends to take the stand in her own defense, according to her lawyer Shannon Smith.

Jennifer Crumbley pleaded not guilty to all charges in December 2021. A separate trial for her husband, James Crumbley, who is also facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter, will begin in March.

The trial is a rare case of parents being charged in connection to a child's mass shooting.

On Thursday, prosecutors started with opening statements, arguing that the Crumbleys did not secure the firearm used in the shooting in a way to prevent their son from getting access to it. Prosecutors also argued that Jennifer Crumbley "was still given the opportunity" to prevent the shooting on the day it happened, but did not.

Days before the shooting, a teacher allegedly saw Ethan Crumbley researching ammunition in class, and the school contacted his parents but they didn't respond, according to previous information shared by prosecutors. But Jennifer Crumbley did text her son, writing, "lol, I'm not mad at you, you have to learn not to get caught," according to prosecutors.

Hours before the shooting, the prosecution has alleged that a teacher saw a note on Ethan Crumbley's desk that was "a drawing of a semi-automatic handgun pointing at the words, 'The thoughts won't stop, help me.' In another section of the note was a drawing of a bullet with the following words above that bullet, 'Blood everywhere.'"

The Crumbleys were called to the school over the incident, and said they'd get their son counseling, but did not take him home, prosecutors said.

Two teachers and an ATF agent took the stand on Thursday. Edward Wagrowski, a detective from the Computer Crimes Unit at the Oakland County Sheriff's Officeat the time of the shooting, was the first to take the stand on Friday.

Wagrowski, who previously testified in hearings for Ethan Crumbley, recounted what he saw in surveillance footage from the shooting, recounting the shooter's movements through the building, saying the video was "burned into his brain."

As he provided testimony, Jennifer Crumbley could be seen crying in the courtroom.

After having the jury removed from the courtroom, Smith argued with prosecutors over entering into evidence texts sent by Jennifer Crumbley to her husband saying she will be getting drunk and riding her horse, while getting distressing messages from Ethan Crumbley about the house being haunted and seeing a picture of a demon. She did not respond to the texts that day but did call him about an hour and half later

The judge allowed the text messages to be entered into evidence.

The video in the player above is from an earlier report.

ABC News' Whitney Lloyd contributed to this report.