The father of a Michigan boy charged with fatally shooting four students at Oxford High School mouthed “I love you" to his wife Tuesday as the couple appeared in court to face involuntary manslaughter charges.
James and Jennifer Crumbley are accused of giving 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley access to a gun and failing to intervene when they were confronted with his disturbing drawings a few hours before the the Nov. 30 shooting.
Judge Julie Nicholson granted a request by prosecutors and defense lawyers to postpone until Feb. 8 a key hearing that will determine whether the elder Crumbleys will face a trial.
Prosecutor Karen McDonald said she needs more time to collect evidence from investigators and share it with the defense.
“This case is unprecedented in Oakland County and perhaps the state,” McDonald said.
The Crumbleys sat on the outside of their two lawyers. But when the lawyers got up to speak privately to the judge, James Crumbley mouthed “I love you” to his wife.
The parents were arrested on Dec. 4 hiding in a commercial building in Detroit, hours after charges were announced. They remain in jail, unable to pay bonds of $500,000, though defense attorney Shannon Smith said she would ask for a lower amount on Jan. 7.
Ethan Crumbley is charged as an adult with murder, terrorism and other crimes. Besides the deaths of four students, six students and one teacher were injured.
The teen had a brief court hearing Monday and will return on Jan. 7. His lawyer, too, needs more time to review evidence.
James and Jennifer Crumbley are accused of failing to step in on the day of the tragedy despite being confronted with a drawing and chilling message — “blood everywhere” — that was found at the boy’s desk.
The Crumbleys committed “egregious” acts, from buying a gun on Black Friday and making it available to their son to resisting his removal from school, McDonald said.
Oxford High School, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Detroit, has been closed since the shooting. Students on the school's sports teams began returning to competition Monday.
The district said other Oxford schools were closed Tuesday out of “an abundance of caution" after a threat was directed its middle school on social media. Online threats against Michigan schools following the shooting at Oxford High have led to school closings elsewhere and charges.
The Oxford district will hold its first school board meeting Tuesday evening since the shooting.