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School shooting suspect should remain in adult jail because mental maturity is well beyond that of an average 15-year-old, prosecutors say

By Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN

The 15-year-old who is accused of carrying out a shooting in a Michigan high school where four students were killed in November should remain in adult jail because his mental maturity is well beyond his age, prosecutors argued Tuesday.

Ethan Crumbley faces a slew of charges, including murder, as an adult for allegedly opening fire at Oxford High School in Michigan on November 30, killing four students and injuring seven others — six students and a teacher.

Due to the seriousness of the crimes he’s facing, he has been held at Oakland County Jail. And on Tuesday, prosecutors argued during a court hearing that he should remain there instead of being transferred to Oakland County Children’s Village.

“In his journal, he described the type of gun he needed, who his first victim would be and ultimately he expressed that he would surrender so that he could witness the pain and suffering that he caused,” said Markeisha Washington, the chief of Family Support Division at the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office. “This shows the sophistication beyond that of an average 15-year-old.”

Crumbley is under constant supervision and is monitored every 15 minutes by an officer, according to his public defense attorney, Paulette Michel Loftin.

The alleged shooter faces one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He has pleaded not guilty, and his attorneys have filed notice they plan to use an insanity defense at trial.

Loftin, who told the court she met Ethan at least 12 times, said that the prosecutor was arguing based on events that transpired prior to her client being charged. “I think it’s going to be very important for the court to look at what’s happened since he has been charged,” Loftin said.

Loftin said that leading up to the shooting, Crumbley was hallucinating, seeing things and hearing voices. “He was not sleeping, he was extremely anxious, he was not eating properly,” Loftin said adding that Crumbley had asked his parents to see a therapist.

She said that the extreme isolation in jail “is not beneficial whatsoever and actually harms Mr. Crumbley.”

Prosecutors argued that Crumbley has amenities offered to inmates in adult jail that are not available to juveniles housed at Oakland County Children’s Village.

He is currently allowed to watch television, has access to a tablet to communicate with friends and family, is allowed to play games and has access to books, has phone privileges, receives mail and has access to the jail’s commissary where he has an account and can purchase certain items, the prosecution said.

Loftin argued that while her client does have access to a tablet, it’s not something that is housed in his cell with him and that while he does have access to a phone, he doesn’t have phone numbers for any relatives “so he has not utilized the phone whatsoever.”

Oakland County Circuit Judge Kwame Rowe also heard from Heather Calcaterra, the manager at Oakland County Children’s Village, who said there are currently no juveniles at Children’s Village with murder charges.

“I’ve never had a case like this in my career,” Calcaterra said. “This was a devastating situation, and we don’t know what the defendant’s presence on our campus in the classrooms, on the units what that presence — how that may trigger or impact other young people from Oakland County.”

Calcaterra added that she would be concerned about Crumbley’s safety at the juvenile detention center. “I do not know if he would be a target. I do not know if his presence in a juvenile facility would cause him to experience any type of trauma.”

Rowe allowed the attorneys until the end of the week to provide supplemental information to the brief for consideration before he is set to decide whether Crumbley will be allowed to be transferred to the juvenile facility.

Rowe’s decision is expected to come next week.

Behavior remains a concern, prosecutors say

In the days leading up to the shooting, Crumbley displayed concerning behavior that had alarmed school officials.

His parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, have each pleaded not guilty to four counts of involuntary manslaughter for their actions — or lack thereof — leading up to the shooting. Prosecutors have accused them of giving their son easy access to the gun and disregarding signs that he was a threat.

They were arrested days after the shooting in a Detroit warehouse following a manhunt after they failed to come to court for their initial arraignment.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Collins said that on December 17, Crumbley asked jail staff, “How do I get my fan mail, my hate mail and my commissary?”

“He knows that he’s going to have people who admire him and people who hate him alike, and he wants that notoriety,” Collins said.

Collins argued that Crumbley’s email communication via the tablet to what she called his fans shows that he portrays his life in jail as “not so bad.”

“We won’t have these in writing when he’s at Children’s Village, when he’s talking to another juvenile,” Collins argued. “This is not a person you should place in the position of having contact with and potential influence over other juveniles,” she said.

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