The parents of Michigan school shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley have been denied a request for a lower bond, after a judge said their actions in the aftermath of the massacre prove them to be a flight risk.
James and Jennifer Crumbley appeared in court on Tuesday for a pretrial hearing on manslaughter charges over the 30 November mass shooting at Oxford High School.
Attorneys for the Crumbleys had filed a motion asking Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Matthews to slash their bonds from $500,000 each to $100,000, increasing their chances of pre-trial freedom.
Judge Matthews turned down the request, pointing to the circumstances surrounding their arrest as evidence that they would pose a flight risk if released.
“Upon a warrant being issued, law enforcement is not required to make an appointment with the defendant,” she said.
“It is the job of the police to ensure a swift, safe and secure arrest, and this court believes that it would have happened but for the defendants’ actions.”
Days after their 15-year-old son allegedly opened fire inside his high school, killing four of his fellow students, the Crumbleys went on the run.
A huge manhunt was launched to find the couple before they were tracked down hours later to an art studio in Detroit where they were hiding out.
They have been held behind bars ever since.
Their attorneys have insisted that the couple were not on the run but were going to arrange a time to hand themselves into the police.
On Tuesday, their legal team said that they had skipped town to avoid the press – not the authorities – and that they would wear electronic bracelets if released.
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald welcomed the judge’s decision not to lower the bond, saying at a press conference that their decision to skip town “absolutely was” an attempt to evade justice.
Tuesday’s hearing marked the latest blow for the Crumbley parents after the judge ruled back in February that they would go to trial for their alleged part in the deadliest high school shooting since Parkland in 2018.
The parents are each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter after they allegedly bought the gun used in the massacre, left it accessible to their teenage sons, and ignored multiple warning signs about his disturbing behavior in the lead-up to the shooting.
They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges.
At a hearing in February, prosecutors read out extracts from their troubled 15-year-old son’s journal including where he wrote about his plans to carry out the “biggest school shooting in Michigan’s history” and how he wanted his first victim to be “a pretty girl with a future so she can suffer like me”.
Prosecutors pointed to the teenager’s repeated mentions of his parents’ lack of support for his struggles, saying that they “won’t help” or “listen to me”.
“I have zero help with my mental problems and it’s causing me to shoot the school. My parents won’t listen to me,” he wrote.
“I have fully mentally lost it after fighting my dark side. My parents won’t help me.”
He added: “I hope my parents can forgive me for what I do.”
The parents bought their son the firearm as an early Christmas present on Black Friday – just days before the attack, according to prosecutors.
One day before the shooting, they were reportedly contacted by staff at Oxford High School after a teacher found Ethan searching for ammunition on his phone.
They ignored attempts from the school to reach them, while Ms Crumbley jokingly texted her son about the incident: “LOL. Just don’t get caught.”
On the morning of the mass shooting, the parents were then called into the school for a meeting with staff, counselors and Ethan after a teacher found the teenager with a drawing of a shooting victim, gun and bullet and the phrase “the thoughts won’ Don’t stop, help me.”
Prosecutors said the parents were told that their son needed urgent mental health support and asked them to take him home from school. They refused and left.
Ethan, who turns 16 next week, was able to return to class.
Hours later, he allegedly opened fire in the hallways and a bathroom of the school, killing four students – Hana St. Juliana, 14, Tate Myre, 16, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17 – and wounding many more.
Ethan is charged as an adult with 24 counts including terrorism and first-degree murder. His attorneys of him have said he plans to plead insanity.