A judge on Tuesday ordered Ethan Crumbley to stay in jail pending the outcome of his murder case — and in doing so disclosed new details about the Oxford school shooting suspect.
In his opinion, Oakland County Circuit Judge Kwame Rowe noted that he reviewed text messages and journal entries by Crumbley that showed the teenager had made Molotov cocktails and contemplated that he “may use the Molotov cocktails during the school shooting.”
In his journal, Crumbley also wrote that he had once started a small fire in the woods, and that he killed eight baby birds “by slowly torturing them,” the judge wrote, noting that he also saw a video of Crumbley torturing a baby bird to death.
Rowe wrote that these “prior delinquent acts are of grave concerns to this court.”
These factors, among others, helped convince Rowe that Crumbley should remain in the Oakland County Jail, despite pleas from his lawyers that he be moved to Children’s Village — a juvenile detention center in Pontiac.
“This court cannot find that the juvenile would be safely detained at Children’s Village,” Rowe wrote in his decision. “It is clear that Children’s Village is incapable of safely housing this defendant because of the unique circumstances this case presents.”
Rowe said the details of Crumbley’s alleged crime are especially noteworthy.
“The nature and circumstances of the alleged offense are extremely troubling and disturbing,” Rowe wrote, noting he placed “great weight on this factor.” “The (prosecution) alleged that defendant planned and executed a mass murder at Oxford High School. Allegedly, he killed four students and injured seven others. The alleged facts speak for themselves.”
Rowe reached this decision following heated court hearings, during which prosecutors portrayed the 15-year-old as a calculated killer who belongs in jail, while his lawyers argued the teen suffers from severe mental illness and needs therapy, which he allegedly never got.
Crumbley is facing terrorism and first-degree murder charges for the deaths of four students who were killed in the Nov. 30 shooting at Oxford High School. Six students and a teacher were injured in the massacre, many of whom are still struggling to recover from life-altering injuries.
The defense has argued that adult jail is no place for Crumbley, and that his mental health is suffering as the teenager is locked up in isolation.
The judge, though, didn’t buy it, noting in his ruling that Crumbley has been “actively communicating with members of the public — several times a day.” The judge was referring to numerous emails that Crumbley has been receiving in jail from people all over the world since his arrest.
The judge cited one email on Jan. 16, 2022, when Crumbley tells an individual that he is in an adult jail, writing: “I got a cell to myself, 3 meals a day, a TV to watch and the guards are pretty nice.”
In another communication, he tells a supporter that their mail “brightens” his day, and that the “photos of New York are what he imagined.”
“There is nothing in the email exchanges that causes this court concern regarding (Ethan’s) current mental health,” Rowe writes. “He is eating, reading books, playing video games and talking to others.”
Crumbley’s lawyer, Paulette Loftin, was not readily available for comment.
Prosecutors say Crumbley used a gun that his parents had purchased for him four days prior to the Nov. 30 shooting as an early Christmas present.
His parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, are facing involuntary manslaughter charges for their alleged roles in the incident. A judge last week ordered the couple to stand trial on the charges, making them the first parents in America to go to trial for their alleged roles in a mass school shooting.
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The Crumbleys have denied wrongdoing, saying they had no way of knowing their son would carry out a mass shooting at his school, that they safely secured the weapon at issue, and that they are not responsible for the students’ deaths.
Ethan Crumbley, through his lawyers, also has pleaded not guilty as the defense moves forward with an insanity defense. His lawyers also plan to pursue a defense strategy that will rely heavily on attacking the parents, who, the defense has alleged, knew their son was suffering with mental illness but did nothing about it.
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