A judge has imposed a combined $US1 million ($1.4 million) bond for the parents of the Michigan teen charged with killing four students at Oxford High School, hours after police said they were caught hiding in a Detroit commercial building.
James and Jennifer Crumbley entered not guilty pleas to each of the four involuntary manslaughter counts against them during a hearing held on Zoom.
Judge Julie Nicholson assigned bond of $US500,000 ($714,082) apiece to each of the parents and placed other requirements such as GPS monitoring, agreeing with prosecutors that they posed a flight risk.
Defence lawyers for the Crumbleys said they never intended to flee and planned to turn themselves in on Saturday morning.
They accused prosecutors of “cherry picking” facts to publicly release and said their clients were terrified and only wanted time to make arrangements.
“Our clients are just as devastated as everyone else,” lawyer Shannon Smith said.
But Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said the couple took $US4000 ($A5713) out of an ATM not far from law enforcement or court locations they could have reported to, suggesting they could not be trusted to appear for future court hearings.
“These are not people we can be sure will return to court on their own,” she said.
Ms McDonald’s office filed involuntary manslaughter charges against the Crumbleys on Friday, accusing them of failing to intervene on the day of the tragedy despite being confronted with a drawing and chilling message — “blood everywhere” — that was found at the boy’s desk.
The Crumbleys committed “egregious” acts, from buying a gun on Black Friday and making it available to Ethan Crumbley to resisting his removal from school when they were summoned a few hours before the shooting, Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said.
Authorities had been looking for the couple since Friday afternoon. Late Friday, US Marshals announced a reward of up to $US10,000 ($14,282) each for information leading to their arrests.
Under Michigan law, the involuntary manslaughter charge filed against the parents can be pursued if authorities believe someone contributed to a situation where there was a high chance of harm or death.
Parents in the US are rarely charged in school shootings involving their children, even as most minors get guns from a parent or relative’s house, according to experts.
On Tuesday, a teacher found a note on Ethan’s desk and took a photo. It was a drawing of a gun pointing at the words, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me,” Ms McDonald said.
There also was a drawing of a bullet, she said, with words above it: “Blood everywhere.”
The school quickly had a meeting with Ethan and his parents, who were told to get him into counseling within 48 hours, Ms McDonald said.
The Crumbleys failed to ask their son about the gun or check his backpack and “resisted the idea of their son leaving the school at that time”, Ms McDonald said.
Instead, the teen returned to class and the shooting subsequently occurred.
“The notion that a parent could read those words and also know that their son had access to a deadly weapon that they gave him is unconscionable — it’s criminal,” the prosecutor said.