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Prosecutors argue high school shooter Ethan Crumbley, 15, should remain in adult jail


Michigan prosecutors argued in court on Tuesday that despite his young age, 15-year-old high school shooter Ethan Crumbley should remain in an adult jail, given his history of torturing animals, plotting a classmate’s rape and murder, and expressing admiration for Adolf Hitler and Jeffrey Dahmer. 

Attorneys for Crumbley painted a different picture of the youth, saying that he was struggling with mental health issues, including hallucinations and severe anxiety, prior to the November 30 shooting at Oxford High School, and that he had asked his parents for help.

Crumbley’s defense team argued before the court that he needs to be placed at Children’s Village, a juvenile facility in Oakland County, so that he could be around his peers, and not in almost complete isolation like at the adult county jail.

In January, Crumbley pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder, terrorism and gun charges in connection with the school shooting, which killed four students and injured seven other people.

His parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, are currently jailed on charges of involuntary manslaughter for allegedly making a gun accessible to their son. 

Ethan Crumbley, 15, attends a hearing at Oakland County Circuit Court  on Tuesday to determine whether he should remained at an adult jail, or be transferred to a juvenile facility 

Crumbley pleaded not guilty in January to first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder, terrorism and gun charges stemming from a November 30 school shooting

Crumbley pleaded not guilty in January to first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder, terrorism and gun charges stemming from a November 30 school shooting

Oakland County prosecuting attorney Markeisha Washington said Crumbley enjoyed torturing baby birds and plotted to stalk, rape, torture and murder a female classmate

Oakland County prosecuting attorney Markeisha Washington said Crumbley enjoyed torturing baby birds and plotted to stalk, rape, torture and murder a female classmate

In her opening statement, Assistant Prosecutor Markeisha Washington with the Oakland County Prosecutors’ Office, described Crumbley as a sadistic, anti-social youth ‘with a sophistication well beyond an average 15-year-old’ who ‘enjoyed his dark side.’

The prosecutor alleged that in his journal and in text messages to a friend, Crumbley had outlined a plan to stalk, rape, torture and ultimately murder a female classmate.

He also allegedly ‘expressed delight in torturing a family of baby birds, and he wrote about the joy he received in listening to them squeal as he killed them,’ according to Washington.

Crumbley has been charged as an adult and was ordered held in the county jail, but separated from adult inmates

Crumbley has been charged as an adult and was ordered held in the county jail, but separated from adult inmates 

In other journal entries, the 15-year-old high school sophomore was said to have expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and the cannibal serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

‘When you die,’ Crumbley was quoted as writing, ‘you need to be remembered for a long time. doing something that would make people think of you until time ends.’

in arguing for keeping Crumbley in the adult jail, Washington told Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Kwame Rowe that the teen’s preparations for the mass shooting showed that he was acting in a methodical and calculated manner far beyond his years.

She said that in his private writings, Crumbley described the kind of gun he needed, who would be his first victim, ‘and ultimately he expressed that he would surrender so that he could witness the pain and suffering that he caused,’ Washington told the court.

Madisyn Baldwin, 17

Hana St Juliana, 14

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

Justin Shilling died in the hospital

Tate Myre died at the school

FILE – This undated combination of photos provided by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office shows James Crumbley, left, and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of Ethan Crumbley, a teenager accused of killing four students in a shooting at Oxford High School, in Michigan. The couple face a key hearing to determine if they will face trial. Attorneys for the Crumbleys have asked a judge to consider a postponement so they can further prepare. But there was no decision from the judge ahead of the hearing Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. (Oakland County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

The prosecutor also revealed that investigators have obtained a video from his phone recorded before the slaughter at Oakland High School, in which, she said, Crumbley identified himself as ‘the next school shooter’ and sought to justify his future actions.

‘To place the defendant with other at-risk juveniles, who are potentially the same risk as his victims,” would not be safe for the other juveniles,’ she added.

Paulette Loftin, representing Crumbley, told Judge Rowe that prior to the shooting, her client was not sleeping or eating well, that he was ‘extremely anxious’ and suffering from visual and auditory hallucinations.

During his stay at Oakland County Jail, Loftin said Crumbley has ‘very little access’ to anyone beyond his lawyers and a deputy who checks on him every 15 minutes. 

He enjoys a daily access to a tablet, where he can communicate with friends and family, and he is allowed to use a phone, but Loftin said he does not know his relatives’ phone numbers, so he is unable to call them.  

‘This extreme isolation is not beneficial whatsoever, and actually harms Mr. Crumbley,’ Loftin told the judge.

During the hearing, the court heard testimony from three witnesses, including Heather Calcaterra, a manager at Children’s Village, who said that she was concerned about the prospect of housing Crumbley. 

‘We’ve never had a situation like this involving a school shooting,’ Calcaterra said. ‘I have concerns about the trauma impact on other young people.’

Heather Calcaterra, manager of Oakland County Children's Village, told the court that she was concerned about the prospect of housing Crumbley

Heather Calcaterra, manager of Oakland County Children’s Village, told the court that she was concerned about the prospect of housing Crumbley

She also raised the possibility that having Crumbley at the facility could ‘trigger’ other residents, and that the 15-year-old could become a ‘target.’  

Last month, the teen’s lawyers signaled their intention to pursue an insanity defense. 

Under Michigan law, if someone is found not guilty by reason of insanity, they don’t walk free. They must be referred to a state psychiatric center for custody and further evaluation.

Someone who is found guilty but mentally ill still would be sentenced to prison but with recommendations that they get treatment.

Crumbley is charged as an adult in the November 30 shooting at Oxford High School.

The teen is accused of killing four people — Hana St. Juliana, 14; Tate Myre, 16; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17 — and injuring seven others, including a teacher. 

Ethan's parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, are currently jailed on charges of involuntary manslaughter for allegedly making a gun accessible to their son

Ethan’s parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, are currently jailed on charges of involuntary manslaughter for allegedly making a gun accessible to their son

The day of the shooting, a teacher found a note on Ethan´s desk and took a photo. 

It was a drawing of a gun pointing at the words, ‘The thoughts won´t stop. Help me,’ McDonald said in December.

The drawing also featured a person who appeared to have been shot twice and is bleeding with the words ‘My life is useless’ and ‘The world is dead’ written.

The gun used in the shooting was bought days before by James Crumbley and their son had full access to it, according to authorities.

McDonald has said that James and Jennifer Crumbley committed ‘egregious’ acts by buying a gun on Black Friday and making it available to Ethan Crumbley to resisting his removal from school when they were summoned a few hours before the shooting.



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