ROCHESTER - Ethan Crumbley will be back in court Wednesday for another arraignment on murder and terrorism charges linked to the Oxford High School shooting last year.
He'll have his formal rights read to him during the procedural meeting. This time he's in circuit court after waiving his preliminary hearing, and he was bound over for trial last week. The move, a decision agreed upon by both the prosecution and defense, sends the case to trial. Crumbley will have the option to enter a different plea once in court.
A not guilty plea was issued on Crumbley's behalf during the virtual hearing, which did not address many issues. The largest one looming over the case is whether it is right for him to still be held at the Oakland County Jail.
Crumbley is being charged as an adult and, because of a statute enacted after the shooting but signed into law before the crime, minors have to be evaluated every month by a judge. This evaluation has to happen before Jan. 21 - one month after the statute was enacted - and it could take place during Wednesday's hearing.
That was not addressed on Wednesday. Instead, the judge asked for briefs from both sides to be submitted by Jan. 19 with a goal of having that hearing done in person. Due to the high number of COVID-19 cases, however, the judge said both sides need to present details during a hearing on Jan. 19.
The topic of bond could also be addressed and whether Crumbley should be housed at the Oakland County Children's Village - a juvenile detention center - or with adults in the Oakland County Jail. Crumbley's court-appointed guardian had previously asked that he be moved back to juvenile custody.
According to the 15-year-old's attorney, Crumbley could potentially enter a guilty plea at some point.
"I do think there's a possibility (of a plea)," said Paulette Michal Loftin last week. "It is too early. We haven't reviewed all of the discovery yet; there is still some forthcoming. I think it's too early to jump to that phase, but that is a definite possibility."
She said a guilty plea was partly contingent on conversations between the defense and the Oakland County prosecutor.
"Obviously we would be hopeful of that, if that's the avenue we decide to take. We've not had any conversations whatsoever, so I'm not sure," she told FOX 2's Charlie Langton last week.
Crumbley waived his preliminary exam during a probable cause conference due to the amount of evidence that the prosecution had.
According to a new state statute enacted before the shooting, juveniles being tried as adults must be kept separate from adult prisoners. If the issue is addressed today, it will include testimony.
Loftin also said that a hearing regarding Crumbley's competency is not being considered at the moment.
"I've talked with him about ten times now (and) never had a situation where I felt that he wasn't understanding me. The guardian is of the same opinion. Competency is not an issue, at this very second. Obviously we may address that in the future or may address criminal responsibility, which is another aspect of competency," Loftin said.
The court appearance today will also be the first time Judge Kwamé L. Rowe, a newly-appointed figure to the bench who will ultimately try the case against Crumbley.
Crumbley faces 24 counts after he allegedly killed four students and injured seven others during a rampage through Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2021. His parents James and Jennifer Crumbley have each been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.