Judge grants request that school shooter’s name not be used

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A judge has granted a prosecutor’s request that a Michigan teenager charged in a fatal school shooting not be named in court in his parents’ separate criminal trial.

Oakland County Circuit Judge Cheryl Matthews in her decision on Monday ordered that Ethan Crumbley’s name not be spoken openly in court or used in writing in the case against James and Jennifer Crumbley.

“Calling the shooter by name does not appear to be relevant in this proceeding and prohibiting its use does not appear to prejudice the defense in any way,” Matthews said.

Prosecutor Karen McDonald filed a motion on March 18 asking that the boy’s name be withheld.

“Shooters want to be famous,” McDonald said in a statement at the time. “That’s one of the main motivations for most shooters, and it was certainly a motivation for the Oxford shooter. He wanted to be famous and he wanted to be remembered.

“So when we repeat the Oxford shooter’s name and continually post his photo, we are helping with future filming,” McDonald continued. “I’m not going to be part of this. That’s why we don’t repeat the shooter’s name in court or in our briefs, and that’s why we’re asking the court to order that this shooter’s name not be used in open court or in public documents. .

The Associated Press names suspects identified by law enforcement in major crimes. However, in cases where the crime is committed in search of publicity, the AP strives to limit mention of name to the minimum necessary to inform the public, while avoiding descriptions that might serve the desire for publicity or self-glorification of a criminal.

Matthews on Tuesday, concerned about potential conflicts of interest, assigned independent counsel to each parent.

Because each is represented by an attorney from the same law firm, the risk of conflict exists, Matthews said.

During their preliminary examination where they were ordered to stand trial last month, Jennifer Crumbley was represented by Shannon Smith, while Mariell Lehman represented James Crumbley.


The Crumbleys face manslaughter charges and are accused of providing their son, Ethan, with the gun used in the Nov. 30 shooting at Oxford High School. They are also accused of failing to intervene when he showed signs of mental distress at home and at school.

Joint representation of co-defendants accused in criminal cases by attorneys from the same law firm is rare, Matthews said.

“Appointment of counsel will not replace the defendants’ current counsel of choice or reporting to this court,” Matthews said, adding that they will advise each defendant regarding joint representation and potential conflicts.

The Associated Press left messages Tuesday seeking comment from Smith and Lehman.

Prosecutors initially expressed concern that using the same law firm would allow an attempt to appeal the Crumbleys if found guilty.

Matthews said the couple would be invited to a preliminary hearing tentatively scheduled for early April if they intended to drop any potential conflict.

Their son is charged as an adult with first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder, terrorism and firearms charges in the shooting at his school, about 50 miles north of Detroit . Six other students and a teacher were injured.

Matthews ruled Monday that Ethan Crumbley

Smith and Lehman insisted James and Jennifer Crumbley didn’t know their son might be planning an attack and didn’t make the gun easy to find in their home.

His lawyers filed a notice of defense of insanity. He is housed alone in a cell in the Oakland County Jail Clinic to prevent him from seeing and hearing adult inmates.

Oakland County District Attorney Karen McDonald filed a motion last week asking that her name not be spoken openly in court or used in writing in the case against her parents. McDonald said she wanted to avoid giving notions of fame or notoriety to their son.

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Williams reported from West Bloomfield, Michigan.

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Ken Kusmer in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

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