PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) — The high-profile criminal case against Ethan Crumbley may never get to a jury. While his attorneys have filed notice of an insanity defense, it must pass a major test with a forensic examiner.
Fifteen-year-old Ethan Crumbley is charged as an adult with four counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder among other charges in the Nov. 30 mass shooting at Oxford High School.
The insanity defense is not a trick move by defense attorneys to get Crumbley off the hook or to have an explanation for a jury. Defense Attorney Paulette Michel Loftin says there is a basis for it.
“He is talking about hallucinations, visual and audible. So obviously, I'm not a clinician, I can't diagnose him, but I do think there was some mental illness,” she said outside of court on Tuesday.
Todd Flood a longtime prosecutor and defense attorney says the stakes are high.
“Remember, to win a case on insanity. You have to basically agree with the prosecution that the person committed the crime,” Flood said.
The judge was told on Tuesday many details about Crumbley leading up to the shooting and that it was calculated and very detailed.
Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor Markeisha Washington said that included, “The type of gun he needed, who his first victim would be. And ultimately, he expressed that he would surrender so that he can witness the pain suffering that he caused.”
The sheriff said after the shooting, Crumbley dropped the gun and gave up peacefully. That can negate insanity, according to Flood.
“That's a huge factor because it shows he can appreciate the difference between right and wrong. He wants to watch the suffering knowing it's wrong, he wants to revel in his wrongness,” Flood explained.
If the state forensic exam does not affirm insanity, the defense says they will get a second opinion. Flood says this is not a defense Hail Mary.
“Actually, she has to do this. It would be malpractice if she didn't,” he said.
And without an insanity defense, Flood says a trial is not likely — a guilty plea is.
Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Kwame Rowe will decide next week if Crumbley stays in the jail or if he’s allowed to transfer to juvenile detention. That judge will also impose the sentence after a trial or a plea deal.