A probable cause hearing for Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old suspect charged in connection with a deadly shooting at a Michigan high school last month, has been postponed because prosecutors say they need more time to examine a large amount of evidence before sharing it with defense lawyers.
The prosecutor’s office currently has about 500 pages of reports and witness statements that it has shared with defense attorneys, Assistant Prosecutor Marc Keast said during a Monday court hearing conducted by video.
The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office provided the prosecutor’s office with a flash drive containing more than 340 items on Monday morning, including in-car video and recorded witness statements. Investigators need to conduct more witness interviews, he said.
“A number of the children at the school were victimized and traumatized themselves,” Keast said. “That has naturally caused delays in those interviews.”
The January 7 court date could be delayed again if discovery is not complete, Judge Nancy Carniak said. The previous date for the preliminary hearing was December 20.
Crumbley appeared via video from the Oakland County Jail, where he is currently being held. He wore a face mask and only spoke when asked to identify himself or when he acknowledged he understood his rights.
Attorneys for Crumbley asked that he be transferred from the jail back to the Children’s Village, which houses juveniles.
Deborah McKelvy, who was appointed the teen’s guardian ad litem, said Crumbley should be moved because he can hear other adults, which violates the statute for minors being held in adult facilities.
Defense lawyer Paulette Loftin also supported the move, saying, her client is not a menace to other juveniles. “This one, basically, incident is all we’re looking at today,” she said.
“This was a mass murder at a school,” Keast responded. “This was planned. This was premeditated. He targeted juveniles.”
The judge denied the request, and Keast said he will contact the facility personally to ensure Crumbley is not in sight or sound of adults at the jail.
The gunfire at Oxford High School on November 30 left four students dead.
Crumbley is charged as an adult with one count 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 during the commission of a felony.
The judge entered a plea of not guilty per a request from Crumbley’s attorney during an arraignment on December 1.
The slain students were identified as Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Justin Shilling, 17, authorities said.
Crumbley’s parents were also charged in connection with the shooting. James and Jennifer Crumbley each face four counts of involuntary manslaughter and have pleaded not guilty. They are scheduled to appear in court for a separate hearing on Tuesday.
Students support injured schoolmate
The shooting left seven others – six students and a teacher – injured.
One of the wounded, Kylie Ossege, 17, was shot in the chest and has undergone multiple surgeries.
Some students came together to lift the spirits of their wounded schoolmate.
A video posted on Twitter shows Ossege being wheeled over to look out a hospital window where she finds a group of students and tennis teammates waving to her from a parking lot.
“Hi Kylie, it’s Coach Bailey,” calls out Gayle Bailey, the Oxford High varsity tennis coach. “How are you?”
“Oh my God,” Ossege says slowly. “I’m going to cry.”
“When we heard she was wounded, we felt as though we needed to do something, whatever that needed to look like,” Bailey said Monday on CNN’s “New Day.”
Students brought their tennis racquets and a local company donated a banner. Bailey said helping Ossege was good for the other students.
“We’re just trying to get … kids in a place where they’ll feel safe again, and that’s going to take a long time,” she said. “For us to be able to do that for Kylie, that’s something good that came out of that tragedy.”
Suspect fired ‘methodically and deliberately,’ prosecutor said
Surveillance cameras at the school captured much of the violence, prosecutors have said.
Just before 12:51 p.m. the day of the shooting, Crumbley could be seen with a backpack, then a minute or two later, he exited a bathroom without the backpack but with a gun in hand, Keast said during Crumbley’s arraignment.
Crumbley then allegedly began to “methodically and deliberately” walk the hallways and aim a gun at students and fire the weapon, Keast said. When students began to run away, Crumbley allegedly continued to go down the hallway at a “methodical pace” and shot inside classrooms and at students who hadn’t escaped, Keast said.
“What is depicted on that video, honestly judge, I don’t have the words to describe how horrific that was,” he said.
This continued for another four or five minutes, and Crumbley eventually went to another bathroom, Keast said.
Dozens of terrified students called 911 during the shooting. The call center received more than 100 calls as police raced to the school at 12:52 p.m. local time, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.
When deputies arrived, the suspect set down the gun and surrendered, officials have said.
Teachers raised red flags before shooting
When classes had resumed after the long Thanksgiving holiday, a teacher noticed Ethan Crumbley searching the web for ammunition, according to Karen McDonald, the Oakland County prosecutor who is leading the case.
The teacher notified school officials, who contacted the parents via phone and email, but they did not respond.
Later, Jennifer Crumbley sent Ethan a text message saying, “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught,” McDonald said.
On the day of the shooting, another teacher found a drawing on Crumbley’s desk which essentially depicted a shooting, McDonald said. It “alarmed her to the point that she took a picture of it on her cell phone,” the prosecutor said.
The distressing picture led school officials to hold a meeting with the accused shooter and his parents, who were instructed to help provide counseling for their son within 48 hours, school officials have said.
The parents resisted the idea of taking their son out of school, McDonald said, and he was allowed to return to the classroom.
Parents arrested after manhunt
Crumbley’s parents are being held on $500,000 bond each for the involuntary manslaughter charges.
Prosecutors accused the pair of giving their son unfettered access to the gun he’s accused of using in the school shooting.
McDonald has alleged James Crumbley bought the gun at a store in Oxford on November 26, and the parents gave the weapon to their son as an early Christmas present.
During the parents’ arraignment, McDonald said, “It’s … clear from the facts that (Ethan Crumbley) had total access to this weapon,” and the parents “didn’t secure (the gun) and they allowed him free access to it.”
James Crumbley shook his head as McDonald made both statements.
One of the parents’ attorneys, Shannon Smith, countered during the hearing, saying, “The gun was actually locked.”
“When the prosecution is stating that this child had free access to a gun, that is just absolutely not true,” Smith said. “This court is going to see … there is far more going on than what this court has been made aware of.”
The Crumbleys were arrested following a manhunt that began when they failed to show up to court for their initial arraignment on December 3.
CNN’s Amir Vera, Travis Caldwell, Artemis Moshtaghian, Elizabeth Joseph and Theresa Waldrop contributed to this report.