Oakland judge limits pretrial publicity in case of parents of alleged Oxford High shooter

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Pontiac — An Oakland County Circuit judge issued a gag order Friday in the case involving the parents of the accused Oxford High School shooter.

Oakland County Circuit Judge Cheryl Matthews noted in her ruling that there would be no sanctions against the Oakland County prosecutor for pretrial statements made about the pending criminal case.

Matthews said the order would "protect the rights of the accused as well as the people to a fair trial."

Judge Cheryl Matthews addresses the courtroom during an earlier hearing for James and Jennifer Crumbley.

Matthews' ruling was in response to defense attorneys' requests  asking Prosecutor Karen McDonald to be sanctioned for allegedly making “unethical and inappropriate” remarks about their clients, James and Jennifer Crumbley, who have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of four Oxford teens.

Attorneys Shannon M. Smith and Mariell R. Lehman argued the Crumbleys were being deprived of a fair trial due to the prosecutor making statements to the media about the defendants' personal habits, including horseback riding, alcohol and marijuana use, premarital affairs and allegedly neglecting the emotional and mental health needs of their son, Ethan Crumbley. 

Ethan Crumbley has been charged in the four deaths and the wounding of seven others at the school on Nov. 30. Prosecutors said a handgun was bought for him by his parents.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald

His trial is set for Jan. 17. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

The attorneys claimed McDonald’s statements and others made by assistant prosecutors in court proceedings violated ethical standards and tainted the potential jury pool.

Last month, Matthews denied another defense motion for a change of venue to outside of Oakland County. Matthews said enough potential jurors could be found who could decide the facts based on evidence and testimony at the trial.

The Crumbleys’ trial is scheduled for Oct. 24. If convicted, they each could face 15 years in prison.

Matthews restated in her ruling that “based on an agreement from the prosecution” that neither the prosecution nor defense attorneys would engage in extrajudicial public statements about the case to the media but still can confer with potential witnesses, experts and victims.

Neither defense attorneys nor McDonald’s office could be reached comment Friday.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

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