Judge denies Crumbleys' request to drop involuntary manslaughter charges
A judge on Wednesday denied a request by James and Jennifer Crumbley to dismiss their criminal charges, concluding there's enough evidence for a "reasonable" juror to conclude that four students died due to their "gross negligence."
"Here, (prosecutors) have shown that it is legally possible for the defendants to be held criminally liable for gross negligence, and thus involuntary manslaughter," Oakland County Judge Cheryl Matthews wrote in her opinion.
The Crumbleys had argued that they could not be held liable for the acts of their son, Ethan, who is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly carrying out the school shooting. Lawyers for the parents also argued that Ethan Crumbley was the "sole cause of the harm" that resulted from the Nov. 30 massacre, and that the charge of involuntary manslaughter is "unconstitutionally vague."
The judge disagreed.
"Sufficient evidence has been presented to allow a reasonable juror ... to conclude that the deaths of the victims were a direct and natural result of the defendants' gross negligence," Matthews wrote in concluding a lower court did not err in binding the Crumbleys over for trial.
The Crumbleys are the first parents in America to be charged in a mass school shooting for which their child stands accused.
Prosecutors allege that the couple ignored numerous warning signs that their son was spiraling out of control, and instead of getting him help, they bought him a gun. Days after getting the gun, prosecutors allege, Ethan opened fire at his high school, killing four students and injuring six other students and a teacher.
Ethan Crumbley, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, is being held in the Oakland County Jail on first-degree murder and terrorism charges. He has a pretrial court hearing at 9 a.m. Thursday.
The Crumbleys are in the same county jail and have a court hearing scheduled for Monday, during which their request for a change of venue will be discussed.
Contact Tresa Baldas: [email protected]