Here’s why Jennifer, James Crumbley argue they can’t get a fair trial in Oakland County

Crumbleys request change of venue for trial

Pretrial hearing for James and Jennifer Crumbley on April 19, 2022

OXFORD, Mich. – Jennifer and James Crumbley, the parents of the suspected Oxford High School shooter, have requested their trial be moved, arguing that they won’t receive fair treatment in Oakland County.

In a motion filed Tuesday (May 24), the Crumbleys -- who are both facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter -- argued that holding the trial in the same county as the shooting wouldn’t give them a fair chance.

Here are the arguments made in the motion:

Emotional impact of shooting

The Crumbleys’ defense team says the Oxford High School shooting traumatized students, staff members, family members, and employees throughout the community.

“The very widespread number of people impacted by the tragic school shooting throughout Oakland County make this case a unique set of circumstance,” it reads.

It goes on to claim that Oakland County residents have been uniquely subjected to negative coverage of James and Jennifer Crumbley, and therefore shouldn’t make up the jury that will decide their fate.

Facts ‘widely believed’ to be true

The motion argues that there are a number of facts that the public has “widely come to believe are true, when in fact there is no evidence to support them.”

Among those facts argued in the motion: that the gun believed to have been used by Ethan Crumbley to kill four people and injure seven others was “unlocked” and that he had “free access” to it.

“Much of this information was put out to the public through the prosecution’s improper questions at exam; through statements (Oakland County Prosecutor Karen) McDonald has made in her media tour of interviews and press conferences; and through evidence that the public has seen which will likely be deemed inadmissible for trial,” the motion reads.

In other words, the Crumbleys are arguing that there are certain false facts that the general public in Oakland County has already accepted as the truth.

Media coverage

The motion claims that media coverage has “already convicted” the Crumbleys in the court of public opinion.

“It will be impossible to ‘un-ring the proverbial bell’ or to ‘unscramble the egg,’” the motion argues.

The Crumbleys’ defense team argues that their case has generated more widespread, inflammatory, and sustained local media coverage than their son’s case, “despite the fact that (Ethan Crumbley) solely and deliberately planned and committed premeditated murder.”


The motion accuses prosecutors of exacerbating the negative pretrial publicity by failing to follow the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct.

“Some of the prosecution’s improper media comments and improper questioning of witnesses are also the subject of other previously filed defense motions,” it reads.

Requesting change of venue

In conclusion, the motion requests either a change of venue or a jury made up of residents from outside Oakland County.

The defense argues that a failure to grant the motion would “deprive (the Crumbleys) of their constitutional rights to a fair and impartial jury, to a fair trial, to be represented by effective counsel, the right to due process, the presumption of innocence which has been stripped away by the prosecution, and to have fair, impartial jurors who have not been tainted who can decide the case against them.”

You can view the full motion below.

Oakland County prosecutor responds

Here’s a statement from McDonald:

From the moment I learned about the Oxford shooting, my focus and attention has been on holding those responsible accountable, and on advocating for our victims. It is important for my office to be a transparent, reliable source of information to the public. My office will not be distracted by motions that are legally and factually deficient, and we will be filing appropriate written responses with the court. Our trial team has never and will never mislead the court or the public. We intend to prove the allegations we’ve made against the Crumbleys beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.”


Prosecutors accuse Jennifer and James Crumbley of neglecting their son and ignoring warning signs of his disturbing behavior. They are also accused of purchasing and supplying their son with the handgun that was used in the fatal shooting last year.

Their son is accused of opening fire during school hours on Nov. 30, 2021, killing four students and injuring seven other people.

His parents were last in court for a pretrial hearing on April 19, when a judge denied a motion to reduce their bond. They’re both being held in lieu of $500,000.

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.