The mother facing manslaughter charges in connection with the tragic mass shooting at Oxford High School in Oakland County has asked a court to toss out some evidence in her case.
According to WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton, the prosecution intends to introduce evidence claiming that Jennifer Crumbley’s son, Ethan Crumbley, tortured newborn birds in the months preceding the teen’s shooting and killing four of his classmates and injuring six more kids and a teacher.
While the defense does not deny that Ethan mistreated the birds, it claims that his parents were unaware of it.
Part of the motion reads:
“It is clear that the shooter mutilated baby birds on more than one occasion, texted a friend about details of mutilating birds, video recorded himself doing so, and photographed vile and disgusting images of his actions. Hereinafter, the defense will refer to this information collectively as the
‘bird evidence.’ … The discovery makes it clear that the shooter intentionally hid all of the ‘bird evidence’ from his parents…. There are no materials in the discovery suggesting that Mrs. (or Mr.) Crumbley were aware of any activity by the shooter involving birds or the ‘bird evidence.'”
As stated by Langton, this is an effective defensive strategy.
“It’s just very, very prejudicial, and the relevance of the bird evidence is probably minimal,” Langton said. “And when the evidence has only minimal effect on the relevant issues in a case, and yet it creates all kinds of inflammatory…visions in the jury’s mind, then the judge should exclude the evidence.”
According to Langton, the judge has previously allowed the defense’s motion to remove other evidence in the case.
“Like evidence of the (extramarital) affairs, for example, which would be maybe probative on the issue of ‘Were they good parents’?’ But it’s more inflammatory, and the judge ruled no, that’s not proper evidence to be given to a jury,” Langton said.
“But this bird evidence is just dangerous stuff,” he added. “I mean, it really shows a lack of, you know, sanity on the part of the shooter, Ethan Crumley. And if a jury understood that evidence or found that evidence, then yeah, they could really hit the parents hard.”
The Crumbleys are the first parents of a mass killer to face charges, according to Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald, who claims the parents purchased the pistol used by Ethan Crumbley to kill his classmates and neglected to seek him mental health treatment when he needed it.
Ethan Crumbley is expected to be sentenced in Oakland County Circuit Court on Friday after pleading guilty to four counts of first-degree murder, terrorism, and other offenses.
Following another hearing scheduled for Jennifer Crumbley next week, the judge is anticipated to rule on the motion questioning the birds’ evidence.
She will stand trial separately from her husband, James Crumbley, after the judge granted petitions to split their cases based on fresh evidence.
Jennifer Crumbley, James Crumbley, and Ethan Crumbley are still being held without bond.
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