Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of accused Oxford school shooter Ethan Crumbley, sent a text message to her son the day of the massacre telling him “don’t do it.”
But in newly filed court documents, lawyers for the 43-year-old mom argue she wasn’t referring to the mass shooting, but was urging her son not to kill himself after it was over.
Authorities believe 15-year-old Ethan was the gunman that killed four students and injured seven at Oxford High School in Michigan on Nov. 30.
Investigators said Ethan and his parents met with school administrators after the sophomore was seen making a violent drawing and looking up ammunition on his cellphone. The Crumbleys declined to pull their son out of school during the meeting and he was sent back to class.
Moments later, the massacre began.
Both his mother and his father, James Crumbley, are facing involuntary manslaughter charges and each has been in custody since early this month. Prosecutors believe the couple purchased the handgun that he allegedly used in the shooting and have argued that they knew Ethan was a danger to himself and others when they gave him the weapon as an early Christmas gift.
The Crumbley parents are each being held in Oakland County Jail on $500,000 bond, which their defense attorneys are seeking to reduce.
In a court document filed Wednesday asking for $100,000 bail, the Crumbley’s lawyers said Jennifer’s now-infamous text message didn’t show prior knowledge of the attack but was the plea of a desperate mother who thought her son would soon commit suicide.
DA: Jennifer Crumbley Knew Son Was Dangerous
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald’s case against the James and Jennifer Crumbley is unique, as it seeks to hold the parents of an accused mass shooter partially responsible for their child’s alleged crimes.
“I absolutely acknowledge that it hasn’t been done before,” McDonald said on NPR last week.
Her office has argued that the Crumbleys knew their son was potentially dangerous when they gave him a handgun and insisted on keeping him in class on Nov. 30. Whether the charges stick will hinge on prosecutors’ ability to prove that foreknowledge to the satisfaction of the court.
But in the Wednesday filing, lawyers for the Crumbleys doubted that McDonald’s office would be able to build a winning case.
“The prosecution will not be able to prove that the Crumbleys […] knew their son was a danger to other students, or that they knew there was a situation that required them to take care to avoid injuring another,” wrote defense attorneys Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman.
Text Message Proves Nothing, Say Lawyers
When McDonald announced early this month that the Crumbley parents would face charges for the shooting, the prosecutor argued that Jennifer’s text message to Ethan on the day of the massacre showed that she knew what he was allegedly planning.
“Minutes after Crumbley allegedly walked out of a bathroom and opened fire inside the school hallway, his mother texted him: Ethan don’t do it,” McDonald said.
But the defense team said Wednesday that the text was sent after the shooting started, and that Jennifer was pleading with her son not to take his own life.
“When Mrs. Crumbley texted Ethan, ‘Don’t do it,’ … the shootings had already happened, Mr. Crumbley had determined the gun was missing and had notified authorities, and Mrs. Crumbley was texting her son to tell him not to kill himself,” attorneys wrote.
“They did not know Ethan was a threat to anyone; and they certainly did not anticipate or cause the tragedy that unfolded at Oxford High School.”
Ethan Crumbley, meanwhile, remains behind bars without bond in Oakland County Jail where his parents are being held, though none of them are in communication, the Detroit Free Press reported.
His attorneys have sought to have the 15-year-old moved out of the adult jail and into a juvenile facility, which a judge denied.
The accused school shooter is facing a litany of felony charges, including four counts of first-degree murder and terrorism.