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Attorney for Oxford shooter's mother Jennifer Crumbley asks judge to exclude evidence that her son mutilated baby birds

By Wwj Newsroom,

2023-12-05

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(WWJ) The Oakland County mother facing manslaughter charges in connection with the deadly mass shooting at Oxford High School is asking a judge to throw out some evidence in her case.

WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton reports the prosecution plans to use evidence claiming that Jennifer Crumbley's son, Ethan Crumbley, tortured baby birds in the months leading up to when the teen shot and killed four of his schoolmates, and injured six more students and a teacher.

While the defense does not dispute that Ethan tortured the birds, it contends that his parents didn't know about it.

The motion reads, in part:

"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.'"

Langton said this is a good strategy by the defense.

"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."

Langton said the judge already granted requests by the defense to exclude 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 murderer to be charged after Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald claimed that the parents bought the gun Ethan Crumbley used to kill his classmates, and failed to get him mental health help when he needed it.

After pleading guilty to four counts of first-degree murder, terrorism and other charges, Ethan Crumbley is scheduled to be sentenced in Oakland County Circuit Court this Friday.

The judge is expected to rule on the motion concerning the birds evidence following another hearing set for Jennifer Crumbley next week.

She will face trial separately from her husband, James Crumbley, after the judge approved motions by both parties seeking to sever their cases, based on new evidence .

Jennifer, James and Ethan Crumbley all remain held without bond.

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