Accused Michigan high-school shooter Ethan Crumbley was given a court-appointed lawyer — while his parents hired their own pricey private legal team to battle the lesser charges against them, a new report says.
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, The Independent reported.
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 killed four.
His parents were arrested last weekend after fleeing their manslaughter 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.”
The Crumbleys purchased the 9 mm semiautomatic handgun their son allegedly used in the shootings and refused to take him out of school after a meeting with administrators over a “disturbing” drawing the teen made.
He 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.”
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.