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Parents of Michigan school shooting suspect created 'pathway to violence,' prosecutor says

Mike Martindale, The Detroit News on

Published in News & Features

McDonald wants an opportunity to have oral arguments on what evidence should be permitted at the couple’s Oct. 24 trials. No pretrial hearing is scheduled yet.

But McDonald appears to be using a new argument in a bid to get some of the blocked evidence readmitted for trial.

The FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit has recognized that the “pathway to violence” is a “set of behaviors” leading up to an act of targeted violence, such as a mass shooting. The model has been studied by law enforcement, universities and researchers as a “risk assessment and management tool” McDonald wrote.

In her filing, McDonald wrote Matthews how the parents allegedly:

"Exposed their son to years of chaotic, toxic conflict” in which his “violent tendencies flourished.”

Were aware he was troubled, complaining of demons but instead of seeking counseling they “bought him a gun.”

"Were not just in constant conflict, or who just exposed their son to conflict but who actively inserted him into the conflict.”

“The evidence demonstrates the defendants’ priorities were anywhere but on their son,” McDonald wrote. “… defendants would loudly argue between themselves on a consistent basis, so much so much that neighbors in Oxford, Lake Orion and even as far back as when they lived in the state of Washington distinctly remembered it.”

The son’s text messages and entries in a personal journal corroborate that he was frequently put "squarely in the middle of parental disagreements.”


Investigators have interviewed neighbors and others who said the couple fought and drank to excess, oftentimes leaving their son unsupervised,” McDonald wrote.

Evidence shows the Crumbleys spent “thousands of dollars on food deliveries, alcohol and horse-related expenses, compared with negligible amounts on medical care, all while their son was manifesting signs of mental distress, expressing those manifestations to the defendants, and asking them for help,” McDonald wrote.

The prosecutor quoted from the teenager’s own journal: “My grades are failing, my parents hate each other, we have no money, I have zero help for my mental problems and it’s causing me to shoot up the f------ school…”

In another journal entry: “This morning I woke up to my mom having one of her worst rants about how we have no money and can’t pay the bills. This just furthers my desire to shoot up the school or do something else. I have no happiness (sic) or optimisum (sic) left in me as I am a burden to my parents.”

Expert testimony concerning the “pathway to violence” will assist jurors in understanding the why of mass shootings, not just the what, McDonald wrote. This will include examining assessing threatening or concerning behaviors and risk factors exhibited by the teenager and others, McDonald wrote Matthews, showing how shootings are not unavoidable tragedies but if risk factors are identified and addressed, are preventable.

Because of a gag order by Matthews, neither the defense attorneys nor the prosecutor could discuss matters raised in McDonald’s 22-page legal brief to Matthews.

Ethan Crumbley faces multiple felony offenses that can carry up to life in prison. He remains in isolation from adult inmates in the Oakland County Jail and is not expected to go to trial until Jan. 17.


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