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James Crumbley allegedly threatened prosecutor in jailhouse call with family member

James Crumbley, the father of the teenager who fatally shot four students at a Michigan high school in 2021, allegedly threatened Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald in a jailhouse call with a family member, saying the prosecutor was going to hell soon, she better be scared and she was done, a source close to the prosecutor’s office and a source familiar with the matter told CNN.

“He actually said that he hoped I was listening. He hoped I was listening when he threatened me physically,” McDonald told CNN affiliate WXYZ.

McDonald said one of most disturbing threats took place in January, the same month that the trial was set to begin. The prosecutor did not elaborate on that threat but did say at one point, he threatened her physically.

The details were first reported by the Detroit Free Press.

The alleged threats were brought to light during Crumbley’s manslaughter trial when prosecutors asked that his communications be limited. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said at the time that Crumbley was caught making threatening statements by phone and electronic messages while in custody before the start of the trial.

On Wednesday, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s office said the sheriff’s office is investigating the reported comments and that information will be included in a memorandum for Crumbley’s sentencing hearing on April 9.

Prosecutors said they were threats that mentioned McDonald by name, and Crumbley said what he would do upon his release.

“Those threats are serious, and they also reflect a lack of remorse and a continued refusal to take accountability for his part in the deaths of Hana, Madisyn, Tate, and Justin,” officials said in a news release.

During Crumbley’s trial, his defense attorney, Mariell Lehman, objected to prosecutors raising the allegations in open court, after the jurors had left for the day. She ultimately reached an agreement with the prosecutors that Crumbley’s jailhouse communications were only restricted until the verdict was reached.

Lehman told NBC News on Monday that there was a “disagreement about what was said and the nature of that stuff,” although she declined to expand on her characterization of Crumbley’s conversations.

CNN has reached out to Crumbley’s defense attorney.

James Crumbley was convicted of four counts of involuntary manslaughter last week for his role in his son’s mass shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan on November 30, 2021, that took the lives of Madisyn Baldwin, Hana St. Juliana, Tate Myre and Justin Shilling. Crumbley’s wife, Jennifer, was convicted of the same charges last month. They face up to 15 years in prison and are set to be sentenced the same day.

They are the first parents to be convicted of manslaughter for a school shooting carried out by their child.

At each trial, prosecutors used testimony from many of the same shooting survivors, police investigators and school employees to prove that each parent was “grossly negligent” in allowing their teenage son, Ethan, to have a gun and ignoring signs of his spiraling mental health.

In particular, prosecutors introduced evidence showing James Crumbley bought a SIG Sauer 9mm gun for his son days before the attack and failed to properly secure it.

James Crumbley did not testify in his trial. His defense argued there was not enough evidence to prove he knew that his son was a danger and said the prosecution’s case was based on “assumptions and hindsight.”

Jennifer Crumbley’s defense was highlighted by her own testimony in which she placed blame on the school, her husband and her son, and expressed no regret for her actions. “I’ve asked myself if I would have done anything differently, and I wouldn’t have,” she said.

Ethan was sentenced last year to life in prison without parole after pleading guilty to terrorism causing death, four counts of murder and 19 other related charges. He did not testify in either of his parents’ trials.

CNN’s Yan Kaner, Eric Levenson and Nicki Brown contributed to this report.

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