A prosecutor is asking a judge to rule that a Michigan teen charged in a fatal school shooting shouldn’t be named in court during his parents’ separate criminal trial.
Prosecutor Karen McDonald filed a motion Wednesday in Oakland County Circuit Court requesting that Ethan Crumbley’s name not be spoken openly in court or used in writing in the case against James and Jennifer Crumbley.
James and Jennifer Crumbley were ordered last month to stand trial.
McDonald said she wanted to avoid giving any notions of fame or notoriety to their son, who is accused of fatally shooting four students last year at Oxford High School, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Detroit.
“Shooters want to be famous,” McDonald said in a statement. “It’s one of the key motivators for most shooters, and it was definitely a motivator for the Oxford shooter. He wanted to be famous and he wanted to be remembered.”
“So when we repeat the Oxford shooter’s name and continuously publicize his photo, we’re contributing to future shooting,” McDonald continued. “I’m not going to be part of that. That’s why we do not repeat the shooters’ name in court or in our briefs, and that’s why we are asking the court to order that this shooter’s name not be used in open court or in public filings.”
The teen is charged with murder and other crimes in a mass shooting at Oxford High School on Nov. 30. He is charged as an adult and being held in the county jail in Pontiac. His lawyers have said they will pursue an insanity defense.
Separately, James and Jennifer Crumbley are charged with involuntary manslaughter based on allegations that they failed to secure a family gun and ignored signs of their son’s mental distress. They’re being held at the same jail.
McDonald wrote in her court motion that judges have power and wide discretion in controlling the conduct of witnesses and attorneys in cases before them.
“Precluding use of the shooter’s name is necessary for the public health and is in the interests of justice,” she wrote in the motion.
Over the past decade or so, law enforcement and groups have been pushing for more focus to be put on the victims of school and mass shootings instead of the on the shooters.
The effort also is aimed at news organizations. Some say giving the assailants notoriety offers little to help understand the attacks and instead fuels celebrity-style coverage that only encourages future attacks.
The “No Notoriety” movement was partly inspired by the 1999 Columbine school shooting outside Denver. The gunmen became household names and even in death appeared to motivate a whole new crop of mass shooters.
Tom and Caren Teves founded the website NoNotoriety.com after the 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, in which 12 people were killed — including their 24-year-old son, Alex.
“The reason these people do this is because they want fame … they literally told us in their own manifestos and what they put on postings,” Tom Teves said.
The Associated Press names suspects identified by law enforcement in major crimes. However, in cases in which the crime is carried out seeking publicity, the AP strives to restrict the mention of the name to the minimum needed to inform the public, while avoiding descriptions that might serve a criminal’s desire for publicity or self-glorification, said John Daniszewski, the AP’s vice president and editor-at-large for standards.
Williams reported from West Bloomfield, Michigan.
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