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Jennifer Crumbley Testifies. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired February 01, 2024 - 13:00   ET



SHANNON SMITH, ATTORNEY FOR JENNIFER CRUMBLEY: Yes, I will tell them tonight. I just need -- I have been in court with Mrs. Crumbley all day, so I don't know who I'm calling next.


I think -- I guess it's going to be hard to believe that we're going to get past her. Maybe we will. Maybe we will. You think we will?

SMITH: I don't know. It depends how long the process is. I believe I will get through her.

MATTHEWS: All rise for the jury.

All right, you may be seated.

Ms. Smith, you will be calling your client, correct?


MATTHEWS: Mrs. Crumbley, would you raise your right hand?

Do you swear or affirm the testimony you're about to give is truth, so help you God?


MATTHEWS: All right, thank you.

Would you state your name for the record? Spell your first and last name.

CRUMBLEY: It's Jennifer Crumbley, J-E-N-N-I-F-E-R C-R-U-M-B-L-E-Y.

MATTHEWS: All right.

SMITH: Your Honor, I'm going to pull the podium up just so I can see a little bit better.


SMITH: Uh-oh. I think it might have been the microphone.


MATTHEWS: ... microphone?

I think we have to move it. It seems like it became detached.

SMITH: All right, good afternoon.

I just need to get -- is there any way we can put the screen on?

MATTHEWS: Sure. All right. (OFF-MIKE)

SMITH: And what I'm going to have to do is, I'm going to leave this unplugged for a moment, so that, when I need an exhibit I will just plug it in.


SMITH: Because I don't have those fancy, like, in-between slides.


SMITH: Well...

MATTHEWS: They don't all go on simultaneously.

SMITH: They don't. OK.

Let's see it goes. I guess it's like I'm the only one who can see (OFF-MIKE)

MATTHEWS: This one is not on. Oh, there. (OFF-MIKE)

SMITH: Let's see what happens when I just go like -- OK.

I'm going to have to -- I'm going to have to pull it out each time, so I apologize in between witnesses. (OFF-MIKE) So I'm going to pull out. OK.

All right, Mrs. Crumbley, can you please start by identifying yourself. Tell the jury who you are.

CRUMBLEY: My name is Jennifer Crumbley, and I'm the defendant in this case.

SMITH: And how old are you?


SMITH: Mrs. Crumbley, can you -- the jury has heard so much testimony. Do you agree?



If there's -- I'm going to go a little bit faster through things. And if there's something we need to explain, or if I'm cutting you off, let me know.


SMITH: OK? And you understand that as I speak you have to wait for me to finish speaking?

CRUMBLEY: Correct.


So, Mrs. Crumbley, very briefly, go ahead and tell the jury what you did for a living.

CRUMBLEY: I was a marketing director at a real estate acquisition company.

SMITH: And how long did you hold that position?

CRUMBLEY: Five years.

SMITH: Now, does that kind of position include any kind of presentations or public speaking, anything like that?

CRUMBLEY: Not a lot.


And how do you feel right now about talking to this jury?

CRUMBLEY: Public speaking is probably my biggest fear, so very nervous.


And, at times, you have been upset during this trial; is that correct?

CRUMBLEY: Correct.

SMITH: Are you OK to keep proceeding?


SMITH: I want you to tell this jury just a little bit about your personality. And I think we have seen some of it on the videos. Is that fair to say?

CRUMBLEY: You have.

SMITH: OK. Let's talk about when you have a really stressful situation.


What is your -- like, let's say an animal dies in your family or a person dies in your family. How do you handle something like that, news like that? CRUMBLEY: I go into a go planning mode. I internalize things. And my

reaction is to take care of other things that may have to be taken care of, like financials or things that keep the house running.

I just -- I tend to hold things in and I let it out when I'm alone. So having a lot of emotions for me is difficult.

SMITH: Now, in this case -- aside from this case, is that true in other situations of your life?


SMITH: Can you give the jury like an example?

CRUMBLEY: Yes, my husband had a hard time holding down a job after his mother passed away.

So, when he would lose a job, I would actually be the one finding the ones for him and sending them on Indeed or Monster and taking plans of how we're going to put certain things on payments. It's just -- I take control of things. That's just what I do.


And you -- I want to talk to you. You mentioned your husband. How -- when did you and James Crumbley meet?

CRUMBLEY: In October of 2004.

SMITH: And how long have you been together then?

CRUMBLEY: It will be 18 years this September.

SMITH: And are you still together and married at this time?


SMITH: Have you spoken to him recently?


SMITH: How long has it been since you have spoken to him?

CRUMBLEY: A little over two years.

SMITH: So, since the day of the shooting?

CRUMBLEY: Correct.

SMITH: Or not shooting, the day you were arrested?

CRUMBLEY: Correct.

SMITH: You have a son?

CRUMBLEY: Yes. SMITH: The jury's heard a lot about your son. OK. I want to talk

about your son prior to November 30, OK?


SMITH: Tell the jury how old he was at that time.

CRUMBLEY: He was 15 years old.

SMITH: And tell -- give the jury an idea of about what kinds of things he was into, what his hobbies included.

CRUMBLEY: Oh, he was really into bowling. He was actually really good at it. He was into metal detecting. He was into...

SMITH: What did you mean by metal detecting?

CRUMBLEY: He would -- we have a metal detector. So we would go to the beach when we went to Florida out by the ocean or the neighbor's yard. They weren't there anymore, so you would go in the neighbor's yard and see if you could find old coins or cans or whatever he would find.

But he liked that. He was into his BB guns and target practice. We had a half-acre of land in the village of Oxford that went straight back. So, in the backyard, we set up little targets that we got from Amazon that you can just kind of shoot down, like little whatever.

Let's see. He was into his video games. He did soccer from age 3 until ninth grade. He has -- he had a lot of different interests. Coin collecting.

SMITH: Do you have some interests?


SMITH: OK, we have heard about horses.

CRUMBLEY: I like horses. I also snow ski. I'm a big reader. And I worked a lot, so I didn't have a lot of time to do the reading.

SMITH: OK. Now, when you say snow skiing, did you ever -- oh, back up. Were there any activities that you and Ethan enjoyed doing together?


I joined the ski patrol, because the family can ski free, and also to help people out. So I got him into skiing at the age of 7. And he would come out with me on my patrol shifts and come skiing with me. So we're in that together.

SMITH: What about horses? Did he ever go out to the barn with you?

CRUMBLEY: He did. But he didn't really like horses. The one horse I had was kind of aggressive. So it intimidated him. It kind of turned him off from going to the barn. It's kind of boring if you're not the person with the horse. There's a lot of standing around and a lot of nothing.


So would you spend time together with him at home?


SMITH: Tell the jury what kinds of things you guys did together or as a family.

CRUMBLEY: We had a lot of board games. We also had the virtual reality set for the PS4. So we did a lot of the "Beat Saber." You can probably...


SMITH: I don't even know what you're talking about.

CRUMBLEY: It's a -- it's like you're holding lightsabers. It has music and you have to, like, hit the beats, but it's all in 3-D. So it's a virtual reality headset.

SMITH: OK. So you would do that with him?


SMITH: OK. What else?

CRUMBLEY: We had a pool. We liked swimming together, I mean, really just normal stuff.

SMITH: OK. Did you do holiday things?


SMITH: Give us some examples.

CRUMBLEY: So, every year around Thanksgiving, I always cook Thanksgiving dinner. The day after, we would go cut our Christmas tree down. And then we decorate that weekend. We watch "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."

Halloween, we grew our own pumpkins. So we always carved -- and carved our own pumpkins and had a whole bunch put around the house.. Easter was -- it's normal, normal family stuff.


SMITH: Did you have an interest in, like, home improvement kind of stuff?

CRUMBLEY: Yes. Our house was an auction house.

So, basically, it was wrapped in blue tarp when we bought it at auction. So we have been trying to improve the house since 2015. So we had new roof, exterior -- exterior, and then I have been working on exterior and interior ever since.

SMITH: Were there things that your son was interested in outside of the video games? Was there anything academic that he was interested in?

CRUMBLEY: He really liked history. He was a big history buff.

We can "Trivial Pursuit," and he would get me in history every single time. But that's probably his -- that was probably only favorite subject. The rest, he could do without.

SMITH: How did he do in school?

CRUMBLEY: He did good if he applied himself. His problem was, he didn't try as hard as I think he could. So he was -- he had up-and- down grades. I would say he was about average.

SMITH: OK. And when you say about average, was that something that you talked to him about? Was that something you monitored? Tell the jury about that.


You heard about the PowerSchool app during this trial. So I had it on my phone and I was on it multiple times a day. And his grades would fluctuate based on what the assignments the teachers turned in on the PowerSchool app.

Our biggest struggle with him were missing assignments. That was the one thing we battled all the time.

SMITH: Why was that a hot-button issue for you?

CRUMBLEY: Because there's no reason why he should have been missing assignments. He had a homeroom class and get assignments done in.


There were -- you talked about your job. What were the average hours you worked a week?

CRUMBLEY: I usually worked -- I got to the office between 7:00 and 8:00 in the morning and leave anywhere between 4:00 and 6:00.

SMITH: And we have heard lots of evidence already it was family- friendly. Were you able to go and leave and go as you needed to?

CRUMBLEY: Pretty much, yes.

SMITH: Did you care about your job?

CRUMBLEY: I did a lot.

SMITH: OK. Explain, did you have any changes in positions over the year or year-and-a-half, two years before this?


When I first started with the company, I was hired in as a social media coordinator. I stayed in that role until about 2020. I got promoted to director of marketing. And I had the position until I was terminated.

SMITH: OK. And you were -- did you work during COVID?

CRUMBLEY: I did. I worked remotely for about six months during COVID. I went back to the office in, I believe it was August of 2020.

SMITH: Did you enjoy work?

CRUMBLEY: I did. It was fun. It was -- marketing, it's exciting, and I liked doing graphic design. I did. I really liked my job.

SMITH: Now, the jury already heard about Brian. Brian testified.

CRUMBLEY: Correct.

SMITH: Tell the jury about Brian.

CRUMBLEY: Well, I have known him since high school. We have been friends since then. You know, he's part of the horse community, has horses. And as you heard yesterday, we did have an extramarital affair.

That was probably the extent of our -- but, yes -- but we were -- we were good friends too.

SMITH: How often would -- in terms of the affair, how often would you spend time together with Brian during 2021?

CRUMBLEY: Maybe an average of once a week.

SMITH: OK. How long...


SMITH: How long did the affair last over?

CRUMBLEY: About six months.

SMITH: Do you feel like that affair caused you to neglect Ethan or not spend time with him -- I'm sorry -- your son in any way?


SMITH: Explain why -- why you don't feel that's the case.

CRUMBLEY: Because, when I met with Brian, it was in the mornings. On his way home from the station, he would pass my work. And so the time I was coming to work, we'd meet at the Costco parking lot, and that was it. And he would go about his day, I would go about mine.

SMITH: And is it fair to say that you lied to keep that affair going? CRUMBLEY: Yes, I did.

SMITH: And what -- I apologize if I asked this. I might have. I just am not writing notes. Did you say the when the -- the date range that that started?

CRUMBLEY: It was around spring of 2021.


And did -- as far as you knew, did you ever talk to that -- to your son about that?


SMITH: And did you ever talk to your husband about it?


SMITH: If anything, you lied, lied to him about what you were doing, or lied by omission, not telling him.

CRUMBLEY: No. Yes. As far as he knew, I was going to work in the morning. That was...


Outside of those morning times, how many other times would you say you and Brian got together?

CRUMBLEY: It was two or three. I went on some business trips where I would stay overnight, and he would meet me. He would meet me at the hotel.


SMITH: So that happened two or three times?

CRUMBLEY: Two or three times.

SMITH: Were there other business trips you took where he did not meet you?

CRUMBLEY: Yes, there was quite a few.

SMITH: When Kristy Gibson-Marshall testified, do you remember who she was?


SMITH: Who was she?

CRUMBLEY: She was the assistant vice principal.


And she commented she knew Ethan in elementary school -- or she knew your son in elementary school, correct?

CRUMBLEY: Correct.

SMITH: And she said -- she testified, obviously, already about recognizing him. Did that surprise you?


SMITH: She also mentioned something about e-mails with you. Do you recall having e-mail exchanges with her?

CRUMBLEY: There was one regarding his report card, getting additional help in math.

SMITH: Was there any time at that point or into high school that you ever had to e-mail with teachers about discipline issues?

CRUMBLEY: Not discipline, no.

SMITH: How often would you e-mail about missing assignments or grade- type issues?

CRUMBLEY: That was a regular -- regular thing.

SMITH: OK. And you said you monitored PowerSchools every day. Approximately, how many times a month would you say you went to the teachers? Or was it weekly? I don't know.

CRUMBLEY: It would be -- I won't say it was on a regular basis, but when it happened, it was a series of messages. He'd be struggling in geometry.

And so me and the teacher would message back and forth quite a bit, and then he'd start getting better and it would die off. So it was sporadic, but it was a lot when it happened.

SMITH: Now, we saw pictures of your house.


SMITH: How did you feel about seeing those pictures?

CRUMBLEY: Horrible.

SMITH: OK, why's that?

CRUMBLEY: Because my son has a very messy room. And it was right after Thanksgiving, like right after Thanksgiving, and we hosted Thanksgiving. And it was pretty messy. It was kind of embarrassing.


CRUMBLEY: Really embarrassing.

SMITH: Explain the two bedroom thing or what was going on with that.

CRUMBLEY: So, Ethan -- sorry -- my son, he had one bedroom, and it got out of control.

And every time I would go to clean it, I would just shut the door. I just didn't want to deal with it. So, then I told him he could just use the guest bedroom until I could get his room deep-cleaned.

The day before Thanksgiving, I was deep cleaning, because we have people over every Thanksgiving. And my intention was to clean both rooms, but I caught my oven on fire in the self-clean mode. So, instead of -- I had the fire department out and everything. So, instead of getting his rooms clean, I'm just scraping out the black charcoal stuff inside the oven, so I could cook dinner the next day.

But, yes, he was in a second bedroom because I just -- I didn't want to clean his room anymore. It was just -- it was enough.

SMITH: Did you have any plans to do anything with all that stuff?

CRUMBLEY: Yes, we were going through a lot of stuff because he outgrew a lot of the clothes and the shoes. There was a lot of toy- like things that he doesn't use anymore, so we were just going to pack it up and donate it.

SMITH: OK, and when were you planning to do that?

CRUMBLEY: Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, before he got new stuff.

SMITH: Now, we saw a video. I guess I want to talk to you about -- there's one friend in particular who your son spent a lot of time with, correct?

CRUMBLEY: Correct.

SMITH: OK, we're not going to say his name, but let's just refer to him as the friend.



Overall, was that his -- your -- was that your son's only friend?

CRUMBLEY: That was his only friend that came over. He did have friends that he talked to during school, but that was the only one that he spent time with outside of school.

SMITH: And how often would you say he came over?

CRUMBLEY: Oh, he used to walk him every day from school. The summertime, he come camp -- he'd go on camping trips with us. Sometimes, he'd spend more than a week with us. He -- I called him my second son.

SMITH: OK, he was the second son.

Did you know he was going to be moving away at any point? CRUMBLEY: Not that abruptly, no.

SMITH: OK. So, when he moved away, is it fair to say it was a surprise to you and your son?


SMITH: What kinds of things would the boys do together at your house?

CRUMBLEY: Oh, they would go down to the lake and go fishing. They would walk to Little Caesars or Frosty Boy. They'd go in the backyard, shoot the BBs. They'd go swimming in the pool. We took them bowling a lot.

They just played video games.

SMITH: Now, when you -- so when you had him over at the house -- or I guess was...

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: All right, we're listening to Jennifer Crumbley on the stand in her defense.

She is talking about her son Ethan's best friend, who ultimately moved away prior to the shooting. It's been seen as sort of a precipitating event before the 2021 deadly shooting at Oxford High School.


We're going to get in a quick break. We will be right back with more of her testimony.



We want to take you right back to Pontiac, Michigan, where the mother of Ethan Crumbley, the Oxford High School shooter, is now testifying in her defense. She's facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Let's listen in.

SMITH: Was there ever a time where you took away your son's phone?


SMITH: OK. Do you recall when that was?

CRUMBLEY: I don't remember exactly. I just know he got really angry about it.

But we took it away a couple of times. We have taken his video games away.

SMITH: Why did you do that?

CRUMBLEY: Missing assignments and those grades. [13:25:00]

SMITH: OK, so same stuff.

CRUMBLEY: Same stuff.


We're going to talk about some of the text messages. And you would agree, the prosecution admitted some text messages about one of those times when you took away his phone?

CRUMBLEY: Correct.

SMITH: OK. So we will get there, OK?

I want to talk about mental health. Did you ever believe that your son needed mental health treatment, therapy, counseling, anything?

CRUMBLEY: No. I mean, there was a couple of times where Ethan had expressed anxiety over taking tests, anxiety about what he was going to do after high school, whether it was college, military.

So he expressed those concerns to me, but not to a level where I felt he needed to go see a psychiatrist or a mental health professional right away, no.

SMITH: Did you ever deny him or say, no, I'm not going to take you to a mental health professional? Did he ever ask you?

CRUMBLEY: No. He -- one time when he was talking about what he wanted to do for the -- for his future, I don't know, he just -- he was feeling really down about it and stressed.

We did -- my husband did call his school counselor to try to talk to him, because they do a lot of future academic planning with the tech school.

SMITH: Was that a mental health issue?

CRUMBLEY: No, it was more or less addressing what was upsetting my son at that time.

SMITH: OK. And what was upsetting him?

CRUMBLEY: The fact that he didn't know what he wanted to do. His grades weren't that great, so he was stressed out about getting into college. He was just -- he was just having a hard time with his future goals.

SMITH: Was there ever a time he was considering military?

CRUMBLEY: He talked about it, yes.

SMITH: Any other things that he talked about? CRUMBLEY: He wanted to be -- he wanted to go into video -- he wanted

to design video games. He wanted to own his own car shop, like not be the mechanic, but own the shop that mechanics worked at.

But that was about it.


Were there other kinds of health treatments you did get for him? Did you take him to the doctor?


SMITH: How often or for what?

CRUMBLEY: When he got sick, if it was obviously -- well, during COVID, it was different, because every little thing, I freaked out about, so we would take him to get a COVID test or take him to the doctors.

But growing up, it would just be if he had a headache that persisted for quite a -- for longer than a week. But most things are not -- nothing serious.

SMITH: Did you -- was -- did he have insurance? Did you have insurance coverage on your son?

CRUMBLEY: My husband did.

SMITH: OK, always or were there times where you didn't?

CRUMBLEY: All the way up through October of 2021, when my husband lost his job. And I was going to add him on to my health insurance in November of 2021 at the end of the enrollment period.

That was the only time that insurance lapsed with him.

SMITH: Was that one of the outstanding things going on, on the day that all of this unfolded?


SMITH: Despite -- in addition to physically going to the doctor, did you have access to some kind of virtual plans?

CRUMBLEY: Yes, through my company. It's called Allied Health Network. It's a virtual doctor's visit. And, actually, the prescriptions were free too. They didn't cost anything.

So we used that if he had strep throat. You can take a picture of the throat, send it to the doctor, and they can treat it from there.

SMITH: Were there times that you called that -- did virtual visits regarding your son?

CRUMBLEY: Yes. SMITH: And were there times -- did you ever go to an urgent care or

anything like that?


SMITH: For what kinds of things?

CRUMBLEY: Well, usually for sports physicals, but if he had ever -- if he was younger and had a really high fever and his regular doctor couldn't get him in, we would take him to the urgent care. He's never had an injury or anything, so mainly just that.


Was there ever a time that he had an issue with a mole on his back?

CRUMBLEY: Yes, he had a mole in the middle of his back. And when I was putting sunscreen on him, I noticed it changed color. So I made an appointment for the doctor to take him in to take a look at that.

SMITH: Now, that was when he was much younger, correct?

CRUMBLEY: He was about 7, I believe.

SMITH: You mentioned something about headaches for a week. You took him to the doctor. Was there a time where he had a headache issue?

CRUMBLEY: Yes, he was getting really bad headaches, that we couldn't figure out what it was.

SMITH: When was that?

CRUMBLEY: Started -- started young, probably around 5, 5 years old, and he kept complaining.

The doctors didn't really see anything. We even got X-ray of his head to see if any -- there was any bumps or...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to object as irrelevant, when he's 5 or 6 years old.

SMITH: I was -- I was just -- I didn't know when it was. I was just asking if she got him medical...


CRUMBLEY: But it's gone on through the years.

SMITH: It -- it...



Go ahead.