The Macomb Daily

Judge says ‘no’ to mass shooter expert testimony in Ethan Crumbley parents’ trial

- By Aileen Wingblad awingblad@medianewsg­

Citing lack of relevancy and other factors, an Oakland County judge will not allow testimony from two experts on mass shootings that prosecutor­s wanted for the upcoming trial of James and Jennifer Crumbley, parents of Oxford High School shooter, Ethan Crumbley.

The ruling follows last month’s hearing where Oakland County Circuit Judge Cheryl Matthews heard from Jillian Peterson and Dewey Cornell, who prosecutor­s believe could help their case against the Crumbley parents. The Crumbleys are each charged with four counts of involuntar­y manslaught­er for the deaths of four students who were killed when their son opened fire at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2022.

Ethan Crumbley, 16, pleaded guilty Oct. 24 to all 24 felonies he was charged with in the shooting. His parents are accused of committing gross negligence in allowing him access to the handgun used in the shootings — allegedly buying it for him and not keeping it locked up — as well as not properly addressing signs that he was a troubled child in need

of psychologi­cal help. At the last month’s hearing, Peterson and Cornell testified that there’s scientific evidence that mass shootings are preventabl­e if apparent warning signs are addressed. They base their assertions largely on a research-driven “pathway to violence” model and database that identifies risk factors for mass shootings and school shootings — risk factors that Ethan Crumbley reportedly demonstrat­ed — and the role interventi­on can play in preventing them.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald, along with

assistant prosecutor Marc Keast and Chief Assistant Prosecutor David Wiliams, believe jurors should hear from Peterson and Cornell during the trial because their testimony could provide evidence that James and Jennifer Crumbley played a crucial role in their son’s “pathway to violence” — based on indicators he reportedly exhibited in the months and days leading up to the mass shooting. In her ruling to deny the prosecutio­n’s request, Matthews stated that Peterson and Cornell provided no data to show interventi­on can thwart mass shootings and that some data cited at the hearing lacked verificati­on.

She further stated, in part, that the experts “couldn’t aptly apply the principles and methods reliable” to the case because they lack data “as it relates to determinin­g which coding variables would apply to the shooter.” Matthews also referenced Peterson and Cornell admitted they couldn’t predict “what actions or inaction would stop a school shooting,” which made the judge “question whether the testimony is relevant or reliable.” That, she stated, is “most paramount.” Jurors will be able to decide for themselves whether Ethan Crumbley exhibited warning signs that his parents knew about and failed to act upon, Matthews added.

Psychiatri­c records sought

Matthews is also considerin­g a request by the Crumbleys’ attorneys, Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman, to have access to Ethan Crumbley’s records from his court-ordered evaluation at the state’s Center for Forensic Psychiatry and any independen­t psychiatri­c evaluation­s he may have undergone since the shooting.

In a recent court filing, James and Jennifer Crumbley’s attorneys argue that, because Ethan Crumbley

pleaded guilty and his attorney, Paulette Loftin, withdrew a motion of insanity defense, the records “must have shown that the shooter was competent, found criminally responsibl­e, and/or not insane.” If the Crumbley parents aren’t provided the reports, according to their attorneys, they’ll be denied a fair trial, due process and other Constituti­onal rights.

Loftin, along with co-counsel Amy Hopp and Ethan Crumbley’s guardian ad litem, Deborah McElvey, argue that the evaluation­s and reports are privileged and protected informatio­n, prepared solely for his defense. Any other use is prohibited by law, they stated.

Ethan Crumbley’s next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 28, his monthly placement hearing where Judge Kwame Rowe determines if his needs are being adequately met at the Oakland County Jail rather than transfer him back to the county’s juvenile facility, Children’s Village. The hearings are required for juvenile inmates held in adult jails. Ethan Crumbley is also scheduled for a pre-sentencing hearing in February, where the prosecutio­n and defense teams will argue for and against a sentence of life in prison without parole.

 ?? AILEEN WINGBLAD — MEDIANEWS GROUP ?? Jennifer and James Crumbley, with attorney Shannon Smith, at a court hearing in October.
AILEEN WINGBLAD — MEDIANEWS GROUP Jennifer and James Crumbley, with attorney Shannon Smith, at a court hearing in October.

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