While the judge refused to move the trial, defense attorneys for Ethan Crumbley’s parents managed to restrict public statements after being called liars by the prosecution.
ROCHESTER HILLS, Michigan (CN) – Jennifer and James Crumbley, the parents of a 15-year-old student accused of killing four people and injuring several others in a shooting at his Michigan high school last year, were from back in court on Monday for a hearing on a request for a change of venue, the amount of evidence that will be admissible and pre-trial publicity.
Recent court filings have revealed growing tensions between the parties, with the Crumbleys’ attorneys seeking sanctions against Oakland County District Attorney Karen D. McDonald, whom they accuse of asking inappropriate questions during preliminary hearings and of going on a “media tour” to disseminate inaccurate statements that will deprive them of a fair trial.
“They are not protected by the First Amendment to have free rein to continually assert that they are telling the truth and the defense is lying,” states a defense filing.
Granting the motion to restrict advertising, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl A. Matthews sided with the defense on the prosecution’s arguments that inaccurate media reports should be treated.
“Correcting untruths is a desire of the prosecution, not a duty,” Matthews said.
She added: “All statements made in relation to this matter by the prosecution and its agents and the defendants and their agents will be made only in court, either on the record or in chambers, with all parties present…otherwise no statement will be made by the parties or their agents. This includes all forms of media.
Defense attorneys also requested a change of venue as they believe “media coverage has already convicted Mr. and Mrs. Crumbley in the court of public opinion” among Oakland County residents.
Matthews was reluctant to order the change of venue, saying a move should be reserved for extreme situations and she hoped to at least try to seat a jury before considering a change.
“The number of potential prospective jurors who may have been directly affected by the Oxford shooting is not sufficient to warrant a change of venue before proceeding to a voir dire. Oakland County is not a small community and is diverse enough to weigh against a finding of alleged harm,” she concluded.
The parties also spared the type of evidence that will be allowed in the Crumbleys’ manslaughter trial, including diary entries and text messages written by their son and accused gunman Ethan Crumbley, some of which were read by Matthews in court. .
“I want help, but my parents don’t listen to me, so I can’t get help… I don’t have any help for my mental problems and that makes me shoot the fucking school” , Matthews said, quoting Ethan.
The judge said Michigan laws allow for messages to be seized from the record because it can demonstrate a person’s mental state.
“All of this is relevant to the shooter’s state of mind and therefore admissible,” she said.
Matthews partly agreed with the defense that some evidence presented by the prosecution was irrelevant when it denied the admissibility of an alleged extramarital affair by Jennifer Crumbley.
“Evidence that defendant Jennifer Crumbley sees someone outside her marriage during working hours…is unfair prejudicial and non-probative evidence of an alleged breach of parental duty,” she said. declared.
Matthews refused to admit a Nazi coin allegedly held by Ethan because he wasn’t sure the parents knew about it, nor would she allow the fact that Crumbley’s house was a mess with evidence of marijuana use. Matthews said disturbing Instagram posts made from the second and third accounts created by Ethan would not be allowed because the parents probably did not know about them.
The judge agreed to admit evidence that Crumbley’s parents allowed their son to play violent video games that the prosecution said fueled his murderous thoughts.
“Evidence that the shooter may have played these games is relevant because it may tend to make the existence of a fact more likely,” she said.
In April, Matthews denied a request to have the Crumbleys’ bail reduced, noting that the jobless couple sold their Michigan home to cover legal fees and failed to cooperate with law enforcement.
The couple was to be tried at the end of February after a preliminary hearing which spanned two non-consecutive days.
The judge hoped to start the trial on October 24. Both sides told Matthews the date was good for now but might have to be moved in the future. Ethan Crumbley’s trial was postponed until early next year at a brief hearing last Thursday.
Ethan agreed to waive his right to a preliminary review hearing in January and was tried in Oakland County Circuit Court on charges of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm while committing a crime. He pleaded not guilty.
His parents were each charged with four counts of manslaughter.
Three students were pronounced dead on the day of the Oxford High School shooting and a fourth victim succumbed to his injuries the next morning. Eight other people were injured, including a teacher.
Several complaints have been filed by families of students injured and killed in the shooting. The complaints accuse Oxford school officials of not doing enough to stop the massacre and failing to adapt new policies to deal with struggling pupils.
Oxford, population 3,586, is in central Oakland County, about 40 miles north of Detroit.
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