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

15-year-old faces list of charges in connection with Nov. 30 mass shooting at high school

Ethan Crumbley appears via video for a probable cause conference court hearing on Jan. 7, 2022. (WDIV)

Ethan Crumbley is planning an insanity defense, a court filing revealed Thursday.

Crumbley, 15, is accused of opening fire with a handgun Nov. 30 inside Oxford High School where he was a sophomore student. Eleven people were struck by the gunfire, of which four were killed: 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 16-year-old Tate Myre, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and 17-year-old Justin Shilling.

A one-sentence court filing from his attorneys Thursday indicates the teen “intends to assert the defense of insanity at the time of the alleged offense and gives notice of his intention to claim such a defense.” The filing in Oakland County 6th Circuit Court is from defense attorneys Paulette Loftin and Amy Hopp.

This filing now opens the door for Crumbley to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before any trial. Crumbley will be evaluated by the Center for Forensic Psychology. 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.

Crumbley is facing 24 charges as an adult in connection with the mass shooting including:

  • One count of terrorism causing death
  • Four counts of first-degree murder
  • Seven counts of assault with intent to murder
  • 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony

Crumbley was denied bond during his district court arraignment when a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf. He was bound over to trial during a court hearing Jan. 7. Crumbley’s felony case now goes to Oakland County Circuit Court where was arraigned on the felony charges again. He had the option to enter a different plea, but a not guilty plea was again entered on his behalf by his attorney.

Prosecutors said the teen was fascinated with Nazi propaganda, stating he kept a Nazi coin in plain view in his bedroom and drew Nazi symbols in a notebook that was also used to make family grocery lists. During a court hearing assistant prosecutor Marc Keast told a judge that Crumbley made a video in August with a different gun and told a friend in a message that it was “time to shoot up the school -- jk, jk, jk.” Keast also said that earlier in 2021 Ethan Crumbley told his mother in text messages that he thought “there was a demon or a ghost or someone else inside the home.”

“These weren’t one-time messages,” Keast said. “He would repeatedly text what he was perceiving to his mother, who sometimes would not respond for hours.”

Keast told the court that the parents failed to intervene. He also said Crumbley started seeing online ads about mental health after regularly searching for information about school shootings and guns.

“They did not schedule therapy,” Keast said. “Did not investigate what might be in his room, on his phone or on his browsers.”

Read back: Police detail disturbing note, drawing teacher found on desk of suspected Oxford High School shooter

Meanwhile, Ethan Crumbley’s parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, are each facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter as they are accused of making a gun available to their teen son. Their request for a bond reduction was denied last week. Their bonds remain set at $500,000. A preliminary examination hearing is scheduled for Feb. 8. A preliminary examination hearing is where attorneys discuss the case, a potential plea to all charges, some of the charges, or reduced charges, depending on the case.

All three of the Crumbleys have been held at the Oakland County Jail in separate locations.

Read: Poll: Michigan voters support charging parents in Oxford High School shooting


Full coverage: Oxford High School shooting


About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.