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

Witnesses testify in a hearing that will decide if the two will head to trial.

February 8, 2022, 8:42 PM

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 to determine whether the two will face trial. However, a decision had yet to be made as court wrapped up for the day.

The court 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, which the court granted, came after the two were seen communicating in a court proceeding over Zoom.

Attorneys for the Crumbley parents asked the judge to postpone the hearing so they could 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 hallucinating and hearing voices, according to texts submitted into evidence by prosecutors.

PHOTO: Jennifer Crumbley, left, and James Crumbley, right, the parents of Ethan Crumbley, a teenager accused of killing four students in a shooting at Oxford High School, appear in court in Rochester Hills, Mich., Feb. 8, 2022.
Jennifer Crumbley, left, and James Crumbley, right, the parents of Ethan Crumbley, a teenager accused of killing four students in a shooting at Oxford High School, appear in court for a preliminary examination on involuntary manslaughter charges in Rochester Hills, Mich., Feb. 8, 2022.
Paul Sancya/AP

In March 2021, Ethan Crumbley texted Jennifer Crumbley, saying there was someone in the house and asked when she would be coming home. On another day that month, Ethan texted his mother saying he was worried about being home and that he thought there was 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.

In a text exchange retrieved from Ethan Crumbley's phone between him and an unnamed juvenile, Ethan says he will talk to his parents and ask them again to see a doctor. He says in the texts that he will tell them he was hearing voices, according to Wagrowski.

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

"Like I am mentally and physically dying," read another message from the alleged shooter, 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 421 times in November 2021 to look at graphic content from school shootings and bird mutilations.

PHOTO: Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of Ethan Crumbley, a teenager accused of killing four students in a shooting at Oxford High School, appears during a preliminary examination on involuntary manslaughter charge in Rochester Hills, Mich., Feb. 8, 2022.
Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of Ethan Crumbley, a teenager accused of killing four students in a shooting at Oxford High School, appears during a preliminary examination on involuntary manslaughter charge in Rochester Hills, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022.
Paul Sancya/AP

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.

The 911 call placed by James Crumbley on the day of the shooting was also played aloud in court. In the call, James can be heard saying he knows about the ongoing school shooting and says he's "really freaking out" because, "I think my son took the gun."

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.

PHOTO: The Oakland County Sheriff's Office released the booking photo on Dec. 1, 2021, for Ethan Crumbley, 15.
The Oakland County Sheriff's Office released the booking photo on Dec. 1, 2021, for Ethan Crumbley, 15.
Oakland County Sheriff's Office

"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 felonies, 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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