After an hour-long manhunt that led to their overnight arrest in Detroit, the parents of the 15-year-old boy accused of shooting and shooting four Michigan high school students have pleaded not guilty to the charges. death related manslaughter charges.
In an indictment on Saturday morning, lawyers for Jennifer and James Crumbley denied that the couple had fled law enforcement. Instead, they said, the couple intended to appear voluntarily on Saturday.
“This case is the saddest, most tragic and worst case imaginable. There is absolutely no doubt that our clients were going to surrender, and it was just a matter of logistics,” said Shannon Smith, lawyer. representing the couple, at a press conference. the indictment.
A judge set their bond at $ 500,000 each. Both parents face four counts of manslaughter, related to the mass shooting in Oxford, Mich., About 40 miles north of Detroit. Each count carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
James Crumbley, 45, shook his head several times as prosecutors spoke, while Jennifer Crumbley, 43, started to cry as the judge read aloud the manslaughter counts guilty – one for each of the four students killed at Oxford High School.
“They absolutely take this matter seriously. They are devastated by the events of the Oxford case,” said Mariell Lehman, another defense attorney. “The facts are not those presented to the court and to the public.”
Prosecutors urged the judge to set a high bond amount, arguing the couple posed a flight risk after an afternoon spent evading law enforcement and withdrawing thousands of dollars in cash from an ATM Automatique.
“They made several attempts to hide their location and were eventually found after parking their car somewhere where a witness saw it,” Oakland County District Attorney Karen McDonald said.
“These two individuals were found locked away in a room somewhere, hiding. They are not people who can be assured that they will come back to court on their own,” she said.
52-1 District court via AP
The Crumbleys joined the arraignment by video conference from Oakland County Jail, in their first public appearance since prosecutors announced the charges at noon Friday.
“While it is human nature to want to find someone to blame or something to point to or something that gives us answers, the accusations in this case are meant to set an example and send a message,” Lehman and Smith said in a statement sent to NPR just before the arraignment began. “The prosecution chose very well and slanted specific facts to advance their narrative to do so.”
The Crumbleys were each charged with four counts of manslaughter after the events of November 30, when authorities said their 15-year-old son, Ethan, shot dead four people, all classmates, and injured seven others. .
Oakland County, Michigan, Sheriff’s Office / AP
At a press conference on Friday, prosecutors said James Crumbley purchased the pistol used in the shooting, a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol, on Black Friday as an early Christmas present for his son.
Prosecutors said the Crumbleys had stored the weapon “unlocked in a drawer in their room,” a qualification defense attorneys disputed on Saturday.
After the purchase but before the shooting, school officials twice raised concerns about Ethan Crumbley’s behavior to his parents, prosecutors said, including in a meeting with them earlier on Tuesday.
52-1 District court via AP
But the Crumbleys refused to bring their son home and did not ask him about the gun or notify the school that they bought it, prosecutors said.
Michigan law enforcement officials issued a statewide “be on the lookout” alert for the couple and their vehicles on Friday afternoon.
Matthew Hatcher / Getty Images
At around 10 p.m. Friday, Detroit Police were informed that the Crumbleys’ car had been spotted near a large commercial building on the east side of downtown Detroit, according to Detroit Police Chief James White.
Police searched the building and found the Crumbleys “hidden in one of the rooms,” White said. The couple were taken into custody overnight.
If released on bail, the Crumbleys will be required to hand over all guns to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and carry a GPS device that will allow them to only get to work, court hearings, medical appointments and meetings. lawyers.
Young Crumbley faces charges of terrorism, murder and assault with intent to kill. He was denied bail and pleaded not guilty to all counts.
Detroit Police said the Crumbleys were assisted into the building by a third party who “let them in”. An investigation is underway.
“We’re working from an angle on another person who may have helped them,” White said. “Absolutely, they could face charges, absolutely.”