Ethan Crumbley planning insanity defense in Oxford school attack, court docs show
Accused Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley plans to plead insanity in the criminal case accusing him of killing four students and wounding six others and a teacher during a Nov. 30 attack, according to a court filing Thursday.
Crumbley, 15, a sophomore at the high school, has pleaded not guilty to accusations he committed the nation's deadliest school shooting since 2018.
A one-sentence notice of insanity defense was filed early Thursday in Oakland Circuit Court, signed by defense attorneys Paulette Michel Loftin and Amy Hopp. Neither have returned telephone calls.
"Please take notice that pursuant to MCL 769.20a the defendant Ethan Crumbley intends to assert the defense of insanity at the time of the alleged offense and gives his notice of his intention to claim such a defense," reads a copy of the filing, obtained by The Detroit News.
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald was also sent notice, according to the filing, which is assigned to Judge Kwame Rowe.
“This is the first step in a long legal road,” Loftin told The Detroit News on Thursday. “I expect he will be referred to a state forensic center for an evaluation this afternoon. But due to COVID, he will likely be at the end of a long line of people, and it could be some time before he actually is evaluated by a doctor. And that will likely be done by a Zoom meeting over the internet.”
People who are believed to be mentally ill are routinely referred to a state forensic center for tests of either mental competency or criminal responsibility. Or both. An examination could take several hours and could be repeated, Loftin said.
Loftin said she and fellow defense attorney Amy Hopp believe Crumbley is mentally competent, meaning he has the ability to understand the charges against him and assist in his defense. But whether he was criminally responsible at the time of the alleged shooting — specifically whether he had the ability to conform his actions to the law or knew the difference between right and wrong — is expected to be an issue in his prosecution, she said.
According to state law, Crumbley’s lawyers would need to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he lacked “substantial capacity either to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his or her conduct or to conform his or her conduct to the requirements of the law.” Testing could reveal whether Crumbley was suffering from mental illness or an intellectual disability.
McDonald has said she did not believe Crumbley's mental state would affect his ability to face charges. The prosecutor dug in on her belief late Thursday in a court brief to Rowe and Loftin declaring her "intent to rebut" any claimed defense of insanity.
Crumbley is charged as an adult with murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting, which also wounded six other students and a teacher. Experts will consider whether the teen understood the wrongfulness of his conduct on the day of the shooting.
Tate Myre's father, William Myre, recounted at a press conference about the lawsuit Thursday several milestones Tate would miss, including his 17th birthday, graduation, his senior season of wrestling, and "standing up" at his brothers' weddings someday.
"He was a January 1 baby," William said, speaking through tears while sitting between his wife, Sheri, and his lawyer.
"We're not doing good," Myre said. "We think about Tate every day. We sit in his room. We listen to his playlist on Spotify."