(PONTIAC, Mich.) — Brian Meloche, a longtime friend of Jennifer Crumbley and with whom she was having an affair with at the time of the 2021 Oxford School shooting, took the stand to testify in her manslaughter trial on Wednesday.
In texts sent after the shooting, Jennifer Crumbley told Meloche that the shooting “could have been prevented,” according to evidence. In other texts, she told him the school was “nonchalant” about concerns surrounding Ethan Crumbley and said that the school should have taken the concerns seriously and not allowed him to return to class.
Jennifer Crumbley and James Crumbley are each facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the school shooting, which was carried out by their then-15-year-old son Ethan Crumbley. James Crumbley is being tried in a separate trial in March.
Ethan Crumbley has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing four students and injuring seven others in November 2021.
After Jennifer Crumbley’s attorney, Shannon Smith, questioned Meloche — suggesting that police intimidated and threatened him into providing his testimony — prosecutors sought to allow the judge to include evidence that the two had an affair. In a previous ruling, Judge Cheryl Matthews excluded all evidence regarding their extramarital affair.
The jury was excused from the room and Matthews spoke directly to Jennifer Crumbley, who said she supported her attorney’s decision to admit information about the affair into evidence.
Meloche, a fire department captain, initially appeared to testify that police interviewing him threatened his job and benefits, including his pension, if he helped Jennifer Crumbley by refusing to share information. However, he later clarified that he was pressured by police to share information about the Crumbleys but was always told to tell the truth. Meloche admitted on the stand that he did not want his affair to be revealed and had sought to protect his family and wife by withholding information.
Meloche testified Wednesday that Jennifer Crumbley had told him she was able to leave work to meet up with him even though she allegedly told school officials on the day of the shooting that she could not take her son home or for mental health care that day because she needed to return to work.
Jennifer and James Crumbley decided to send their son back to class despite a meeting the morning of the shooting in which school officials expressed concerns about him.
Andrew Smith, the CEO of the real estate company where Jennifer Crumbley worked at the time of the shooting, testified on Tuesday that she would have been allowed to leave for the day if she needed to take care of her son and could have brought him to work if she needed.
Meloche testified about conversations he had with Jennifer Crumbley in the days leading up to and after the shooting. The two texted regularly leading up to the shooting and in the days after it.
Meloche said he regularly deleted the messages between himself and Jennifer Crumbley. He testified that one of the deleted texts from her — sent on the day of the shooting — said that the gun was gone. He responded, telling her to contact police.
Meloche told Crumbley in texts before she was arrested that she needed to “disappear” when she was allowed to do so.
Prior to the shooting, Meloche said he was aware that the Crumbleys had gotten a handgun for their son and said he was “surprised” that they chose to do so. Meloche also testified that he did not believe Jennifer Crumbley should have been charged, but has since learned more information that makes him believe otherwise.
Meloche testified he didn’t think a shooting would take place, but he thought that Ethan Crumbley might hurt himself.
Evidence shown in court of the text messages also showed an unsent message from Jennifer Crumbley to Meloche in which she told him that the gun was locked with a string lock.
“I’ll never be OK I lost my son. And he’s a murderer and I’ll forever have to live with the guilt of that. I’m not even sure life is worth living anymore,” Crumbley said in another message that was never sent.
Meloche testified that the two normally met in the parking lot of a Costco across the street from her job during the morning hours of work days, when Ethan Crumbley was at school. He testified that he never felt that Jennifer Crumbley did not care about her son.
He stopped communicating with Jennifer Crumbley when he saw on the news that police were trying to apprehend her and her husband, Meloche testified. The last time the two communicated was Dec. 4, 2021, he said.
Lt. Sam Marzban, an Oakland County detective, also testified that Jennifer Crumbley did not want to hand over her phone to police and was concerned about being able to contact people while police were conducting a search.
Marzban testified that he told Crumbley she could get a replacement phone and asked that she share the number with police. Marzban said Jennifer Crumbley seemed “irritated and frustrated” but was not crying while police searched their house, just hours after the shooting.
The prosecution said it expects to call two more witnesses Thursday morning before they rest. The defense is expected to begin presenting its case in the afternoon.
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