Michigan school shooter Ethan Crumbley gets court appointed lawyer while parents James and Jennifer Crumbley hire pricey legal team in strategy to combat charges against family.
Accused Michigan high school shooter Ethan Crumbley was given a court-appointed lawyer — while his parents hired their own pricey private legal team to address the lesser charges against them in the November 30 shooting that left four students dead and 7 injured.
James and Jennifer Crumbley, who were charged with involuntary manslaughter as accessories in their 15-year-old son’s first-degree murder case, have hired a team that includes Shannon Smith, who represented disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, during his sexual assaults trial.
Their son, on the other hand, is being represented by court-appointed lawyer Paulette Michel Loftin, a little-known defense attorney from the Detroit suburb of Rochester.
Ethan Crumbley faces life in prison if convicted on four counts of first-degree murder, terrorism and seven counts of assault with intent to commit murder in the Nov. 30 shooting at Oxford High School that led to four fellow classmates being shot dead.
The boy’s parents face 15 years in prison on each count charged against them along with a $7,500 fine and mandatory DNA testing.
‘The parents have got a harder case than their son’
The 15 year old’s parents were arrested last weekend after fleeing their manslaughter charges.
All three Crumbleys pleaded not guilty to their charges.
While their move to hire pricey lawyers may seem a cold-hearted move that leaves their son fending for himself, one prominent lawyer said they may have a reason.
‘In some ways, the parents have got a harder case than the kid,’ veteran defense lawyer Bill Swor told the Detroit Free Press.
‘They’re adults, and he’s a child, and the father bought the gun,’ Swor said. ‘The mother made the [social media] postings, and public officials … made public statements that are very prejudicial.’
Local criminal defense attorneys agree that Ethan Crumbley got a good lawyer and believe his parents decided not to hire one for him due to money.
‘I think Paulette Loftin is a fine lawyer with a solid background in both juvenile law and adult criminal law,’ local attorney Margaret Raben told the Detroit Free Press. ‘I think she will be a good choice for this kid.’
Solid background in juvenile law and adult criminal law
Another lawyer Bill Swor, a prominent defense attorney in the area, said: ‘First of all, he’s got a good attorney. The court made certain that he got a good attorney. She is an excellent attorney who knows both juvenile and adult criminal law.’
Swor also alleged the Crumbleys didn’t have the money to afford another attorney to represent their son, with retainer fees range between $30,000 and six figures.
The charges against the parents center on the fact that the Crumbleys purchased the 9 mm semiautomatic handgun their son allegedly used in the shootings, their failure to lock the weapon, along with refusing to take him out of school after a meeting with administrators over a ‘disturbing’ drawing the teen made.
The sophomore student returned to class and opened fire about three hours later, authorities said.
After another teacher caught the teen researching ammunition on his phone a day before the shootings, his mother texted him, ‘You have to learn not to get caught.’
Prosecutors would be presented with the challenge showing that the parents should have known that their actions would have led to the school mass shooting along – irrespective of whether one could argue moral culpability for their ‘failure‘ as parents.
Loftin, Ethan’s lawyer, told the Free Press she will not comment on the case until she has a chance to review all of the evidence against her client.
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said school officials and a Detroit artist who may have helped the Crumbleys run from police could also face charges.
All the Crumbleys are being held at the Oakland County Jail.