A judge denied a motion Tuesday to reduce bonds for the jailed parents of a Michigan teenager who is charged in a shooting at Oxford High School that left four of his fellow students dead.
Oakland County Circuit Judge Cheryl Matthews said that James and Jennifer Crumbley’s actions before their Dec. 4 arrests in a commercial building in Detroit were meant to conceal their whereabouts.
“The defendants indicate they were devastated when they heard about the alleged actions of their son, felt unsafe in their home, felt hounded by the press and found it necessary to leave,” Matthews said. “The chronology of events that occurred subsequent to the defendants leaving their home is not consistent with cooperation with law enforcement.”
The Crumbleys had disappeared the day before — after they were charged with involuntary manslaughter. The parents are accused of failing to keep a gun secure at home and failing to reasonably care for their son when he showed signs of mental distress. They have pleaded not guilty.
“Upon a warrant being issued, law enforcement is not required to make an appointment with a defendant,” Matthews said. “It is the job of the police to ensure a swift, safe and secure arrest. The defendants actions were premeditated to conceal their whereabouts.”
The Crumbleys’ attorneys had requested that their bonds be lowered from $500,000 each to $100,000 each. They indicated they would appeal Matthews’ ruling on bond and would seek a change of venue as the case heads to trial, which is tentatively scheduled to begin Oct. 24.
“The Crumbleys were absolutely shocked parents who had no reason to foresee what would happen,” defense attorneys Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman wrote earlier.
The Oakland County prosecutor’s office opposed a lower bond for the Crumbleys, noting that a similar request was denied by a judge in a lower court.
“The claim that they weren’t trying to flee is not credible,” Prosecutor Karen McDonald told reporters following Tuesday’s hearing. “Turning yourself in is always the best route. You can’t try to run from being prosecuted and claim you were always going to return to a court date.”
Ethan Crumbley, who turns 16 next week, is charged with murder and other crimes. Four students were killed and more were injured in the Nov. 30 shooting.
McDonald said Tuesday that her office has been spent the past several weeks meeting with parents of the Oxford High students who died and those whose children were wounded. They’ve also met with students who survived the attack.
“The one thing they really want is certainty and they want to know that the Crumbleys will be held accountable for their actions,” McDonald told reporters. “There is a lot that that community is dealing with, and having your child be shot at school is something that I don’t think we’re really wired to understand.”
None of that should impact the couple’s right to a fair trial, she added.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said she sent a letter to the Oxford Board of Education renewing her offer to conduct an independent investigation of what happened.
“Though there were a wide array of opinions expressed, the overwhelming concern shared by all in attendance was a deep desire to learn more about what happened. Under Michigan law, a board of education has the ultimate responsibility for school district operations. Among other things, the law gives each board the power to provide for the safety and welfare of students. This awesome authority has been placed in the hands of local boards to help ensure that the persons responsible for the critical operations of the school are also directly accountable to the communities they serve. To put it plainly, the families you serve want transparency and – as board members – you have an obligation to provide it.”Excerpt from letter from Attorney General Dana Nessel
Williams reported from West Bloomfield, Michigan. News 8 contributed to this report.