The teenage suspect in the deadly Oxford High School shooting has been bound over for trial after he waived his right to a preliminary exam in Rochester district court Friday morning.
In a brief court appearance from the Oakland County Jail, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley said he understood his rights and agreed to head straight to trial rather than have a preliminary exam — when prosecutors must show that there was probable cause that a crime was committed, and that there was probable cause that Ethan Crumbley committed that crime.
Rather than go through that process, the high school sophomore agreed to be bound over for trial in Oakland County Circuit Court where he will be tried on terrorism and first-degree murder charges in the Nov. 30 shooting that left four students dead and seven others injured, including a teacher. If convicted he faces life in prison. Crumbley is being charged as an adult.
While he is currently jailed with no bond, the issue of bond will be revisited in the next two weeks in circuit court.
The defense has previously argued that Ethan Crumbley belongs in a juvenile facility, not an adult jail, where he is currently being housed. The defense has cited a recent federal statute that says minors held in adult jails must not be within “sight” or “sound” of adult inmates. That’s not the case at the Oakland County jail, the defense has argued.
However the prosecution has objected to moving him to a juvenile center, arguing he is a danger to others given his alleged crime. A district court judge agreed, though the issue will be raised again in circuit court, where the federal statute, known as the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, will be further examined.
That statute, which went into effect in 2020, required that minors held in adult jails –including those charged as adults – must be removed to juvenile detention centers by December 21, 2021. The one exception, however, is when a court holds a hearing and concludes that it’s “in the interest of justice” to keep the minor in an adult jail.
That happened in Crumbley’s case. However, the statute also requires that a court must hold a hearing once every 30 days to review whether placing the minor in an adult facility is in the best interest of justice.
Crumbley is accused of fatally shooting Hana St. Juliana, 14; Tate Myre, 16; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17.
Separately, a civil lawsuit seeking $100 million has been filed against the school district on behalf of a student who was shot in the neck and survived, and her younger sister who watched her sibling get shot.
The lawsuit alleges that the school district put students in harm’s way by ignoring signs of a troubled teen who was allowed to return to class after exhibiting troubling behavior in class, both on the day of the shooting and the day before.
According to police and the prosecution, Ethan Crumbley was seen in class browsing for ammunition on his cellphone a day before the massacre. The next day, he was found with a note depicting a semiautomatic handgun with the words, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me,” and a sketch of someone bleeding.
His parents were summoned, and a meeting with counselors and their son followed. The parents resisted taking him out of school. He was sent back to class with his backpack, which police said they believe contained the gun used in the deadly shooting.
The backpack was never searched.
According to school officials, Ethan Crumbley explained that the drawing of the gun and blood was part of a video game design, and that counselors did not believe he might harm others based on his “behavior, responses and demeanor,” so they let him return to class.
Shortly after the meeting on the morning of Nov. 30, police said video evidence from inside the school showed Ethan Crumbley emerging from a bathroom and opening fire in a hallway. The shooting lasted for about five minutes before the alleged gunman surrendered to law enforcement.
Also Friday, Ethan Crumbley’s parents are scheduled to appear via zoom in the same courthouse for a bond hearing. James and Jennifer Crumbley, who are facing involuntary manslaughter charges in the shooting that left four students dead, want their bond lowered from $500,000 and to $100,000 each. Their hearing is scheduled for 1:15 p.m.
Contact Tresa Baldas: firstname.lastname@example.org