Oxford school shooting suspect plans insanity defense: Here’s how that process works

Attorneys for Ethan Crumbley plan to pursue insanity defense

Attorneys for the teen accused of injuring seven and killing four students at Oxford High School plan to pursue an insanity defense, according to a court filing.

OXFORD, Mich. – Attorneys for the teen accused of injuring seven and killing four students at Oxford High School plan to pursue an insanity defense, according to a court filing.

The filing stating Ethan Crumbley will plead insanity is not a surprise. It’s procedural. So that means his defense attorney must give notice to the court and the prosecutor. Next Ethan Crumbley will be evaluated by the Center for Forensic Psychology.

Read more: Court filing: Oxford High School shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley plans insanity defense

Prominent defense attorney Neil Rockind helped explain the process.

“They’ll even give him tests to see whether or not he had the -- whether he’s faking it, or malingering. Whether or not he’s acting now, like somebody that has a mental illness,” Rockind said.

It will be the job of Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald to prove Ethan Crumbley was sane at the time of the mass shooting.

“The defense has some hurdles in this particular case and they are that he didn’t shoot up the school when his parents were there. That he waited until after his parents left. That he arguably went into a bathroom. That he had a backpack. That he pulled something out of the backpack like a gun -- all of that shows concealment, design, plan, purpose,” Rockind said.

Rockind said it can be a challenge to establish insanity. Two things need to be accomplished.

“One, that at the time of the incident that he was suffering from a mental illness. And two, he has to show that at the time that due to the mental illness he was unable to appreciate either the nature of his conduct to determine what was right or wrong. Or he has to establish that he was unable to resist an impulse,” Rockind said.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald has previously stated that she has no reason to believe that Crumbley’s mental state would affect his ability to face charges.

Local 4 and ClickOnDetroit did reach out to her and she did not want to comment further.

Read: Complete Oxford High School shooting coverage


About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter and part of the Local 4 Defenders team.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.