Oxford school shooter Ethan Crumbley told a forensic psychiatrist that he never asked his parents for therapy and admitted that he lied when he texted a friend about asking for such help, according to new court documents filed Monday.
A lawyer for the shooter’s mother made this disclosure in one of several filings Monday, stating she discovered the new information in a box of materials she received last week pertaining to the shooter’s mental health, and interviews he had with experts about his past and struggles.
“This information is clearly critical to the Crumbleys, who have been criticized repeatedly by theprosecution for not listening to the shooter’s request for therapy,” defense attorney Shannon Smith wrote in the filing, in which she is seeking more time to prepare for trial.
James and Jennifer Crumbley are scheduled to go to trial on Jan. 23 on involuntary manslaughter charges for the 2021 mass shooting carried out by their son, although the judge agreed Monday to their request for separate trials. They are accused of ignoring a mentally ill child, not getting him help and buying him a gun instead — the gun he used to murder four students and injure seven others, including a teacher.
Documents ‘completely contradict’ prosecution, defense says
Both sides have until Nov. 22 to get their witness lists in and any objections to evidence the other side plans to use at trial, though the defense says it needs that deadline extended by a month to get through all the mental health evidence it received last week. It doesn’t want the trial delayed, just a deadline extension.
Against the prosecution’s wishes, lawyers for the parents were granted permission to review their son’s mental health records that were used in his summer Miller hearing, the proceeding after which the judge concluded the shooter is eligible for a life-without-parole sentence.
At that hearing, forensic psychiatrist Lisa Anacker testified on behalf of the prosecution, telling the court, among other things, that on Ethan Crumbley’s 15th birthday he got upset and told his parents: “I want to see a therapist,” though they didn’t make an appointment.
The box of recently obtained documents, however, tells a different story, according to the defense.
Ethan Crumbley lied to friends, Mom’s attorney asserts
“A cursory review of the materials revealed the materials are absolutely critical to the defense — in fact, they completely contradict many of the allegations the prosecution has lodged against bothparents,” Smith wrote.
Smith cites records from Anakcer that “specifically indicate that the shooter talked about mental health treatment, but “denies seeking it out … he says that he ‘wanted to see a therapist, but did not tell (his) parents.’ ”
Smith also cited the prosecution’s repeated references to text messages that Ethan Crumbley sent to a friend, “claiming he asked his parents to take him to therapy.”
“The records just received by the defense confirm that the shooter explicitly admitted to Dr. Anacker that he lied to his friends, like when he claimed he was shot by a BB gun at least once per week by his father,” Smith wrote, noting she is expecting to receive more medical records involving Ethan Crumbley’s mental health.
Hence, she argued, she needs more to file any potential objections and get an updated witness list drafted for trial.
“If the defense is denied additional time,” Smith wrote, “… Mrs. Crumbley will be deprived of her constitutional right to present a full defense, the right to a fair trial … the right to due process, the right to confront the witnesses and evidence against her, and the right to fundamental fairness.”
This is one of multiple motions filed by the Crumbleys’ attorneys, who are representing the first parents in America charged in a mass school shooting. In other filing, both parents asked the judge to grant them separate trials, arguing new witnesses have come forward and could prejudice one or the other at trial. The prosecution, in its own filing, said it does not object to the Crumbleys being tried separately.
Argument over gag order and prosecutor’s comment
In another development, Jennifer Crumbley’s lawyer took issue with Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald, alleging in a filing that McDonald violated a gag order that prohibits both sides from discussing the case publicly.
At issue for Smith is a Sunday appearance that McDonald made live on WXYZ Channel 7’s show, “Spotlight on the News.”
During the show, interviewer Chuck Stokes asked McDonald about the Crumbleys’ trial. Her response was brief, but irked the defense.
Stokes: “If the jury comes back and says they may not have been good parents, may have been terrible parents, but we are not going to hold them responsible because they didn’t pull the trigger even though they may have failed in many areas of raising this kid. What’s that message?
McDonald responds: “Right, so I can’t comment on that case, but I’ll tell you that we don’t charge cases that we don’t believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Smith argues McDonald crossed a line, alleging she violated the court’s order, “ignored her ethical duties as a prosecutor” and should be sanctioned.
McDonald has not yet responded. Smith wants the judge to issue an order requiring McDonald to appear in court on Nov. 22 and explain her actions on the TV show.
Tresa Baldas: Tbaldas@freepress.com
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Ethan Crumbley admits he never asked parents for therapy, records show