ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (CN) — The 15-year-old Michigan sophomore accused of killing classmates with a gun gifted from his parents briefly faced a state judge Friday for a probable cause hearing, hours before his mother and father are set to appear for a bond hearing.
Ethan Crumbley of Oxford was charged as an adult with 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 over the shooting at Oxford High School on Nov. 30.
He agreed Friday morning to waive his right to a preliminary examination hearing, where evidence against a defendant is presented. The waiver means he will be bound over to the Oakland County Circuit Court for trial as charged.
Crumbley answered yes when Oakland County District Court Judge Nancy R. Carniak asked if he understood his rights.
A bond hearing will be held in two weeks as well as a separate hearing to readdress if his continued confinement in the adult section of the Oakland County Detention Center is warranted.
Last month, Carniak allowed the statutory time limit for a probable cause to be waived.
“I want to make sure we are able to view all of the discovery before we form a decision whether or not we will be holding the preliminary examination,” defense attorney Paulette Lofton told the judge at the time.
Attorney Deborah H. McKelvy, appointed guardian ad litem for Crumbley, was concerned about his current location in lockup and suggested a move to juvenile detention.
“I do have concerns that his confinement at the Oakland County Jail…I’m not sure he is fully away from the sounds of adult inmates,” she said.
Assistant prosecuting attorney Marc Keast adamantly disagreed.
“This cannot be compared to any other case…calling this an isolated incident does not do it justice,” Keast said.
He added, “This was mass murder in a school, judge, this was planned…and the juvenile is charged with first-degree murder.”
Carniak agreed with Keast that Crumbley's current location was fine.
“I think his placement is appropriate,” the judge said at Dec. 13 hearing.
James and Jennifer Crumbley will face a judge Friday afternoon for a bond hearing. The parents were last in court on Dec. 14, when Oakland County District Court Judge Julie A. Nicholson set dates for Friday's hearing and a subsequent one on Feb. 8.
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen D. McDonald said there was a “staggering amount of evidence” that needed to be examined and more time would be required for both sides to prepare.
She added, “This case is unprecedented in Oakland County, and perhaps the state.”
McDonald said she requested a protective order placed on all evidence, including a surveillance video that reportedly depicts the shooting and the victims that were hit. She told the judge she anticipated she would be ready to proceed in February.
According to a pair of $100 million lawsuits filed against Oxford Community School District over shooting, social media posts from the Crumbley family should have caused officials to act but they were not taken seriously enough by school administrators such as Principal Steven Wolf, who is accused of dismissing the danger in an email.
“There is no threat at the HS…large assumptions were made from a few social media posts, then the assumptions evolved into exaggerated rumors,” Wolf allegedly wrote in a Nov. 16 email to worried parents.
School officials were ignored when they attempted to contact James and Jennifer, according to prosecutors, but Jennifer texted Ethan to playfully scold him.
“Lol. I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught,” she allegedly wrote.
The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office released drawings made by Crumbley that were discovered by teachers in late November. One of the captions read “blood everywhere.” McDonald said he later altered the drawings to cover up the violence.
When news of the shooting became public, McDonald said Jennifer reached out to her son via text.
“Ethan. Don’t do it,” she wrote.
Three students were pronounced dead the day of the shooting and a fourth victim succumbed to his injuries the next morning. Eight others were injured, including a teacher. The weapon used was a 9mm Sig Sauer SP 2022 pistol, according to Oakland County Sherriff Michael Bouchard. The suspect had at least two 15-round magazines, including one with seven remaining rounds.
The four students killed were identified as Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17.
Oxford, population 3,586, is in central Oakland County, about 40 miles north of Detroit.
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