PONTIAC, Mich. (CN) — Ethan Crumbley, the Michigan student accused of fatally shooting several classmates last year, was back in court Tuesday for a lengthy hearing in which a judge considered where is best to confine the 15-year-old until his trial.
In her opening statement, assistant prosecuting attorney Markeisha Washington said Crumbley should remain in an adult detention center. She presented disturbing details about torture videos he produced on his phone and journal entries that pointed to “calculated and methodic” behavior.
Washington said Crumbley discussed raping and killing a female classmate and wrote in his journal he planned to surrender after the alleged shooting spree so he could observe and absorb all the pain and suffering he caused.
Crumbley was also aware he would become famous from the incident, according to Washington, allegedly producing a video the night before the Nov. 30 shooting in which he said, “I’m the next shooter.”
Washington further described videos allegedly made by Crumbley that showed he mutilated and killed birds as he reveled in their screams of suffering.
“We ask this court that defendant remain in an adult facility,” she said.
Paulette Lofton, court-appointed attorney for Crumbley, said he was hallucinating before the incident, was not eating a proper diet and begged his parents to see a therapist. Lofton added Crumbley is now very isolated in detention and has had little interaction with other inmates or guards. She said he does not talk to any family members or anyone else on the phone.
“This extreme isolation is actually not beneficial whatsoever…the jail is not equipped with handling juveniles,” Lofton said.
Prosecutors called several witnesses – including an Oakland County Sheriff's Office case worker, the manager of Oakland County Child Village juvenile facility and an officer who manages the jail where Crumbley currently resides – to detail his day-to-day treatment.
Captain Thomas Vida, who oversees the Oakland County Jail, described the cement cell where Crumbley is held in solitary confinement. Vida noted that Crumbley has a large amount of money on his commissary account to buy candy, stationery and toiletries.
Vida said any citizen can give Crumbley money for his account and as a result he has accumulated an “excessive” amount due to his celebrity status. The officer also said Crumbley is no longer on suicide watch or any heavy restrictions.
Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Kwamé L. Rowe said he would take the arguments under advisement and issue his order in writing by the beginning of next week.
Crumbley was last in court on Jan. 12 for his arraignment. He stood mute as his court-appointed attorney entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf. The teen 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.
Rowe extended the deadline to address Crumbley’s placement until Tuesday. The judge noted that under state law a hearing must be held on the defendant's detainment status within 30 days of his arrest, but due to a local surge in Covid-19 cases at the time an in-person hearing would not have been possible.
At a prior hearing on Dec. 13, court-appointed attorney Deborah H. McKelvy expressed worry about Crumbley’s current 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.
But assistant prosecuting attorney Marc Keast would not budge.
“This cannot be compared to any other case…calling this an isolated incident does not do it justice,” Keast said. “This was mass murder in a school, judge, this was planned.”
Oakland County District Court Judge Nancy R. Carniak agreed with Keast that Crumbley's current location was fine.
According to a $100 million lawsuit filed against Oxford Community School District over the shooting, social media posts from the Crumbley family should have caused officials to act but they were not taken seriously enough by school administrators.
A second lawsuit against school officials was filed in late January by the family of Tate Myre, a 16-year-old student who was shot and killed during a deadly shooting spree at Oxford High School in November. The complaint, filed in Oakland County Circuit Court, also accuses Oxford teachers and counselors of not doing enough to stop Crumbley from carrying out the rampage even though he exhibited “strange” and “bizarre” behavior.
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.
Oxford, population 3,586, is in central Oakland County, about 40 miles north of Detroit.
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