PONTIAC, Mich. (FOX 2) - Accused Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley appeared before a judge Tuesday for a scheduled hearing regarding a request to transfer the teen out of Oakland County jail and into a juvenile detention center but a decision won't be handed down until early next week.
Crumbley, who has been charged with 24 counts including murder and terrorism, remains jailed at an adult jail. His defense attorneys have requested the 15-year-old be moved to Children's Village in Pontiac.
Crumbley was charged as an adult with the murder of four students, Tate Myre, 16, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Justin Shilling, 17. According to authorities, Crumbley shot and killed the four students with a 9 mm Sig Sauer.
Michigan enacted a statute that requires minors held in adult facilities to be evaluated every month by a judge. The first evaluation happened on Jan. 21. The second is scheduled for Feb. 22.
The hearing will feature three witnesses testifying under oath in front of the judge and assistant prosecutor Kelly Collins said some of the content viewed on Tuesday will include video allegedly recorded by Crumbley of him torturing a bird and his journal. Collins warned that content is going to be graphic in nature.
Assistant Prosecutor Markeisha Washington said that Crumbley had a plan to stalk, rape, torture and ultimately kill a classmate and that he wrote that he admired Adolph Hitler and Jeffrey Dahmer.
Additionally, the prosecution said his journal detailed plans to shoot students in the school and that he would surrender "so that he could witness the pain and suffering that he caused."
"Despite having no having documented juvenile history, the defendant's anti-social behavior is very concerning," Washington said in an opening statement.
Defense attorney Paulette Michel Loftin said that the prosecution's argument hinges on things that happened before Crumbley was charged.
"Only one part of those factors are the allegations and the events surrounding the charges. there are a number of other things that the court must look at," Loftin said.
His attorney said that the evidence will show Ethan Crumbley was hallucinating, hearing voices, not eating properly and asked his parents for him.
Loftin also argued that Crumbley is virtually in isolation due to the nature of the jail being unable to handle juveniles and adult inmates in the same facility.
"We will be asking that he be moved to Children's Village. I do think that is an appropriate facility for him," Loftin said.
The first witness called was Christina Belling with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office, who works with inmates in the jail, including Crumbley. She said she met with Crumbley almost every day since he was first arrested on Dec. 1, 2021 until mid-to-late January. She's now meeting with him twice a week.
Belling has worked in the facility for nine years and has had 10 juveniles assigned to her in that time. She said she's had hundreds or even thousands of adult inmates.
When Crumbley was first brought into the jail, he was on constant watch to ‘ensure his safety and security', Belling said. She ultimately decides the kind of watch necessary for inmates, including Belling.
Loftin questioned if Belling's education includes dealing with juveniles, to which she answered no.
Under cross-examination from the prosecution, Belling was asked what factors led to Crumbley being taken off of suicide watch but she could not provide due to it being privileged information.
She was then asked what factors, in general, are used to determine if an inmate is taken off of suicide watch. Again, she said she couldn't answer but said she had no concerns about his health, which is why he was removed from suicide watch.
Belling said Crumbley is currently on behavior watch, which is one step down from suicide watch.
Heather Calcaterra is the manager of Oakland County Children's Village and was the next witness called to testify. Calcaterra oversees the facility which houses and treats juvenile offenders.
Calcaterra said the facility holds up to 60 juveniles between the ages of 11 and 17 but it can be both older and younger. She was asked what types of crimes the juveniles are charged with and she said it ranges all crimes from violent to non-violent crimes.
There are currently 38 juveniles in custody, none of them are facing murder charges. Calcaterra was later questioned by the defense and said, while there is not anyone in the facility now charged with murder, they have had such cases in the past.
Calcaterra said those in custody are called ‘residents' and they all have their own individual rooms with doors and a cement slab. The slabs are then equipped with a mattress for sleeping. There are select rooms with in-room restroom facilities but not every room has them.
She testified Children's Village is meant to be a temporary facility until the residents are able to return home or move forward.
Calcaterra said she's familiar with Crumbley's case and, if he were in Children's Village, he would be among peers.
Law enforcement has been called to Children's Village in the past and the responding officers are Oakland County Sheriff's Deputies, the same ones who are employed at the Oakland County Jail, where Crumbley is currently housed, Calcaterra testified.
She also testified that there is a licensed clinician on staff but that residents don't all see the clinician.
"We have weekly staff meetings where we talk about the young people," Calcaterra said.
She was then asked if someone wasn't outwardly expressing anxiety or concerns or manifesting it in some tangible way, would it go undetectable? Calcaterra said potentially, yes.
Residents do not have access to tv, tablet, movies, or video games in their rooms. She said they each get up to two items for reading - books, magazines, etc.
Calcaterra said all residents must attend schooling in some fashion, which is a state law, teachers from the Waterford school district teach students at Children's Village and students do their homework after school lessons end around 3:15 during the week.
To her knowledge, Calcaterra said education is not provided to minors in the Oakland County Jail.
Oakland County Sheriff Captain Thomas Bida was called next. He oversees the Oakland County Jail including employees and operations.
He testified that Crumbley is one of two juveniles in custody of the jail and is separated from the adult population and he's under the supervision of a deputy to ensure his safety in the jail.
Bida said that Crumbley has access to education through the inmate's tablet system. To get one, he only has to ask a deputy, Bida said. The tablets are shared among inmates but they each have their own personal logins.
The tablets also allow access to email, games, and movies on the tablet, Bida said, all of which were approved for all inmates when the tablets were first introduced.
Bida said that Crumbley entered the facility with no money in his commissary account but classified the amount in there now, in comparison to other inmates, is "pretty excessive".
He said anyone can contribute to his account.
When Loftin had her time to question Bida, she asked about the constant watch the Crumbley is under and established that he could not contribute to his own commissary while under his previous watch.
Bida described his cell as being a medical unit, meaning the light in his cell is never turned off.
The defense questioned the access to education, which Bida said is on the tablet through the Kahn Academy. Crumbley's defense team questioned if the education is adequate for what the law requires.
Bida was the final witness called on Tuesday and Judge Kame Rowe is expected to give his final decision, which must be issued in writing, by the beginning of next week. He asked supplemental briefs from the prosecution and defense by Friday.
According to the 15-year-old's attorney, Crumbley could potentially enter a guilty plea at some point and, in late January, less than a week after his last hearing, his attorneys announced it would pursue an insanity defense.
Court filings in Oakland County show that his attorneys plan to argue that Crumbley was at a limited mental capacity at the time of the offense. The Oakland County Prosecutor's Office said that the insanity defense would start the process for a psychological evaluation. It's not known if that's been conducted yet.
Crumbley's parents were in court last week for a preliminary hearing where dramatic testimony was delivered, including allegations that Ethan sent concerning texts to his mother, Jennifer, that she ignored. Those messages were read in the hearing. Read the text exchanges here.
Both James and Jennifer Crumbley are expected to be back in court for the second day of their preliminary hearing on Thursday.
Ethan Crumbley charged
Ethan was charged an adult on Dec. 1. He was arraigned on 24 counts, including first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder, terrorism, and possession of a firearm.
His attorney entered a not guilty plea during his arraignment.
While the murder charges track with similar cases of mass shooters, the count alleging terrorism is a novel approach made possible by a law enacted after 9/11.
The state’s 2002 anti-terrorism law defines a terroristic act as one intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to affect the conduct of a government through intimidation or coercion.
McDonald admitted that it wasn't a "typical charge" for the crime. But "what about all the children who ran, screaming, hiding under desks? What about all the children at home right now, who can’t eat and can’t sleep and can’t imagine a world where they could ever step foot back in that school? Those are victims, too, and so are their families and so is the community. The charge of terrorism reflects that."
The Oakland County Sheriff supported the charge "100%."
Ethan was ordered to be held without bond.
He was also assigned his own defense counsel: Paulette Michel Loftin.
Probable cause conference delayed
Both the prosecution and the defense requested more time to review evidence during Ethan's first court appearance since his arraignment.
A judge delayed the conference until Jan. 7, citing both the holidays and the totality of evidence that still needed to be reviewed at the time.
During the hearing, assistant prosecutor Marc Keast stated that the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office had turned over more than 500 items of discovery to the defense but also received a flash drive from the sheriff containing 340 more videos and interviews on Monday alone.
Discovery is the evidence and information that the prosecution has gathered in the case and is obligated to turn over to the defense. Both attorneys must have access to the same material before probable cause and preliminary hearings can move forward in court.
Attorney Deborah McKelvy was assigned Ethan's ad litem - which is someone independent of a defendant's legal interest and only focuses on Ethan. She requested that the defendant be moved to Children's Village in Pontiac as he could reportedly hear other inmates in the Oakland County jail.
A judge declined to move Ethan but did request his confinement meet the statutory guidelines while in the facility.
Ethan Crumbley waives preliminary hearing
On Jan. 7, Crumbley was in court for a probable cause conference where he waived his right to a preliminary hearing. By doing so, that sent the case directly to circuit court.
Last week, Crumbley was arraigned in circuit court on the murder and terrorism charges and a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.