A circuit court judge appointed separate independent counsel Monday for James and Jennifer Crumbley, who are both charged with involuntary manslaughter for buying the gun used by their son during a school shooting.
During a pre-trial hearing Monday, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Matthews mandated both husband and wife meet separately with court-appointed independent counsel to ensure each is aware of potential conflict of interest issues.
The two are charged independently and have retained separate counsel, however the lawyers are both from the same law firm.
Prosecutors have raised the issue that such an arrangement could lead to a mistrial down the road.
“I want to be clear, that a lawyer providing representation in this matter will not be permitted to also testify,” the judge said Monday.
“The appointment of (independent) counsel will not be as a substitute for the defendants’ current counsel of choice or to report back to this court. The purpose of independent counsel will be for the limited purpose for advising each defendant in the matter with regard to joint representation and the potential for conflicts of interest.”
Matthews said she would “take the prosecution’s motion for joint representation safeguards, which is set for tomorrow, under advisement.”
She also instructed lawyers on both sides to craft a written waiver with the intent to waive any potential conflict of interest.
James and Jennifer Crumbley were charged with four counts of manslaughter in connection to their son, Ethan Crumbley.
The 15-year-old boy is accused of killing four classmates at Oxford High School in Oakland County, Mich., around 30 miles northeast of Detroit. Seven other people were also injured in the shooting on Nov. 30.
Ethan Crumbley is pursuing an insanity defense in the case. He has been charged with 24 felony counts related to the shooting attack — including first-degree murder and committing a terrorist act causing death. He is being charged as an adult.
Prosecutors contend that the parents ignored “disturbing” texts and other red flags about his mental state leading up to the shooting.
A court filing alleges that both parents knew Ethan was depressed, before James Crumbley purchased the handgun for his son, which was later used in the shooting.
“Instead of paying attention to their son and getting him help, they bought him a gun,” prosecutors wrote in the filing.
James and Jennifer Crumbley were both arrested after a manhunt and charged for their role in purchasing the gun used in the shooting.
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