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Ethan Crumbley must rely on public defender while parents hire private attorneys


Michigan school shooter Ethan Crumbley was appointed a public defender after his parents hired big-shot lawyers, including one who represented Larry Nassar in his sexual assault trial. 

Crumbley, 15, will be tried as an adult on 24 charges, including one count of terrorism and four counts of murder. 

He will be defended by Rochester, Michigan-based attorney Paulette Michel Loftin, who was appointed to the teen Thursday after he proved he could not afford one by himself. 

Loftin told the Detroit Free Press that she has spoken to her client, but doesn’t have ‘any comment at this time’ since she has not had access to discovery information between the police, prosecutors, and defendant. She expects to receive it later this week, she told the Detroit Free Press Monday.  

‘There are thousands of pages of discovery that I will need to review so that we can make an informed decision about whether or not we wish to have the preliminary exam.’ 

Michigan school shooter Ethan Crumbley (left) has been appointed public defender Paulette Michel Loftin to defend him in court after his parents James, 45, (right) and Jennifer, 43, (center) hired big-shot attorneys for themselves 

Crumbley’s parents James, 45, and Jennifer, 43, face four charges of involuntary manslaughter and hired high-profile lawyers Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman. 

Each count is punishable by up to 15 years in prison along with a $7,500 fine and mandatory DNA testing. 

Smith helped represent USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar in his sexual assault trial; Dr. Jumana Nagarwala’s female mutilation trial – a first in the country – which ended with charges being dismissed; and MSU football player Josh King’s sexual misconduct trial, which ended with a probation sentence, according to the Detroit Free Press. 

The Crumbleys had retained Shannon Smith (left) and Mariell Lehman (right) even before prosecutors charged them each with four charges of involuntary manslaughter in connection to last week’s deadly shooting

The Crumbleys had retained Shannon Smith (left) and Mariell Lehman (right) even before prosecutors charged them each with four charges of involuntary manslaughter in connection to last week’s deadly shooting

The Crumbleys had retained Shannon Smith (left) and Mariell Lehman (right) even before prosecutors charged them each with four charges of involuntary manslaughter in connection to last week’s deadly shooting

Paulette Michel Loftin has been appointed as Michigan school shooter Ethan Crumbley's public defender

Paulette Michel Loftin has been appointed as Michigan school shooter Ethan Crumbley’s public defender

Local criminal defense attorneys agree that Ethan Crumbley got a good lawyer and believe his parents decided not to hire one for him due to money. 

‘I think Paulette Loftin is a fine lawyer with a solid background in both juvenile law and adult criminal law,’ local attorney Margaret Raben told the Detroit Free Press. ‘I think she will be a good choice for this kid.’ 

Another lawyer Bill Swor, a prominent defense attorney in the area, said: ‘First of all, he’s got a good attorney. The court made certain that he got a good attorney. She is an excellent attorney who knows both juvenile and adult criminal law.’ 

Swor also alleged the Crumbleys didn’t have the money to afford another attorney to represent their son. with retainer fees range between $30,000 and six figures. 

And the court of public opinion has swarmed the parents making their case harder and Swor said they might have difficulty getting a fair trial.  

The parents’ lawyers also declined to comment until they receive the discovery information. 

Madisyn Baldwin, 17

Hana St Juliana, 14

Madisyn Baldwin, 17, (left) and Hana St Juliana, 14, (right) died in the November 30 shooting rampage at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit 

Justin Shilling died in the hospital

Tate Myre died at the school

Justin Shilling, 17, (left) died in the hospital on December 1 and Tate Myre (right) died in the school on November 30

‘At this time, our office is focused on getting the discovery in this matter. We will not be making any statements, participating in any interviews, or making further comments until we have more information,’ Smith’s office told the Detroit Free Press. 

All three Crumbleys pleaded not guilty to their charges. 

James and Jennifer’s bonds were set at $500,000 each. Ethan was denied bond.  

Ethan Crumbley opened fire at Oxford High School on November 30 after a guidance counseling meeting with his parents at the school. 

Four students were killed and seven more people were injured in the shooting. Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Justin Shilling, 17, died during the shooting.

Crumbley had a meeting with school administrators, and his mother was contacted via voicemail by the school about her son’s inappropriate ammunition-related  internet search.

According to the prosecutor, the mother and father also failed to ask Ethan if he had his gun with him, or where his gun was, and did not inspect his backpack.

Instead, the teen returned to class and the shooting occurred later.

His parents were arrested early Saturday after a large-scale manhunt. James and Jennifer were captured in the basement of a building in Detroit, less than half a mile from the Canadian border. 

All the Crumbleys are being held at the Oakland County Jail.   

DailyMail.com has contacted Loftin and Smith & Lehman for comment. 



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