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Prosecutors say James Crumbley made threats from prison, judge limits his communications

He faces four counts of involuntary manslaughter in his son's school shooting.

March 8, 2024, 3:14 PM

James Crumbley's manslaughter trial continued Friday with multiple witnesses taking the stand testifying about his alleged activity in the days leading up to the shooting, including purchasing the firearm that his son later used in a school shooting.

As the trial continues, Judge Cheryl Matthews has limited the communications he can make from prison at the prosecutor's office request on Thursday. It was revealed late Thursday that James Crumbley allegedly made threats to an undisclosed person from prison, according to the prosecution.

James Crumbley's communications from prison have been limited except with regard to his defense until a jury reaches a verdict.

James Crumbley is charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter for his alleged role in the November 2021 shooting at Oxford High School in which four students were killed and seven others were injured. Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17, were killed in the shooting.

PHOTO: James Crumbley enters the Oakland County courtroom, March 8, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich.
James Crumbley enters the Oakland County courtroom, March 8, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich.
Carlos Osorio/AP

His trial comes weeks after his wife, Jennifer Crumbley, was found guilty of the same four counts of involuntary manslaughter over her role in the 2021 school shooting. Their cases are a rare instance of parents facing criminal charges in relation to a shooting carried out by their child.

After the prosecution questioned former Oakland County Detective Edward Wagrowski Thursday, in which he revealed James Crumbley had not signed on to work for the day before he met with school officials the morning of the shooting, the defense prompted him to reveal that James Crumbley began working within minutes of leaving the school.

The school had called the Crumbley parents in for a meeting the morning of the shooting after a teacher discovered he had made concerning drawings on a math test. A school counselor then spoke with Ethan Crumbley and was concerned he was having suicidal thoughts. School officials advised the parents to get their son immediate mental health care, offering them facilities that could provide him care that day.

Wagrowski's testimony hit back at the prosecution's argument on Thursday that the Crumbley parents said they could not take their son home because they needed to return to work, presenting evidence that James Crumbley had not yet begun working for the day. During her trial, Jennifer Crumbley and her former employer both testified that she could have left work for the day or brought her son to work with her if she needed to.

PHOTO: James Crumbley talks to his defense attorney Mariell Lehman in the Oakland County courtroom, March 8, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich.
James Crumbley talks to his defense attorney Mariell Lehman in the Oakland County courtroom, March 8, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich.
Carlos Osorio/AP

Upon choosing to leave their son at school rather than have him return home alone, the parents said they would work to arrange care for him. Hours later, the shooting occurred.

Cammy Back, an employee at the firearm store where James Crumbley purchased the gun used in the shooting, testified about selling him the gun just days before the shooting. Back testified that his son was with him at the time of the purchase and that James Crumbley told her he had had his eye on the gun before buying it.

The Crumbley parents had bought the gun for their then-15-year-old son.

But, Back testified that despite Crumbley telling her he had his eye on the gun that he ultimately purchased, she did not witness any communication in which his son pointed out or said he wanted the gun.

With their line of questioning, the prosecution pointed to a safety pamphlet and gun lock that were handed to the Crumbleys when they made the purchase, ultimately highlighting that it was James Crumbley's responsibility—as the purchaser—to secure the gun and ensure that his son did not have access to it.

PHOTO: James Crumbley appears in court, March 8, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich.
James Crumbley appears in court, March 8, 2024, in OPontiac, Mich.

Part of the prosecution's argument rests on the shooter having access to the gun and James Crumbley not properly securing it, enabling the shooting to occur.

Other evidence presented during the trial included a video taken by Ethan Crumbley at home days before the shooting in which he loaded the gun. According to cell phone evidence collected by police, James Crumbley was at home at the time the video was taken.

Testimony on the day of the shooting

Detective Joe Brian from the Oakland County Sheriff's Office also testified about interviewing the shooter and parents after the shooting. He testified that he called James Crumbley after speaking with the shooter, telling him where to meet police.

James Crumbley then arrived at the police station along with Jennifer Crumbley and they were taken into an interview room where they were informed what had happened. Prosecutors also played video recordings of the parents' interview in court and recording of the parents seeing the shooter for the first time after the shooting.

James Crumbley told Brian that he went to the shooting range with his son "all the time." At one point when the parents meet with the shooter, James Crumbley repeatedly told his son "I love you," and was crying in another section of the video.

Prosecutors pushed back against the defense's line of questioning, saying James Crumbley was loudly saying "I love you" at the same time that Ethan Crumbley was telling his mother "I did it," implying that he was trying to cover up his son's confession.

Kristy Gibson-Marshall, an Oxford High School assistant principal, also testified on Friday about seeing the shooter in the hall during the shooting and providing emergency care to Tate Myre, one of the victims who had been shot in the back of the head.

Gibson-Marshall said she did not comply with the lockdown order and remained in the school hall to help students, ultimately helping Myre, whose family she knew well.

Gibson-Marshall testified that she had known the shooter because he was a student at the elementary school where she was previously an assistant principal and said she was surprised when she saw he was the shooter.