The parents of a teenager charged with killing four students in a mass school shooting in the US state of Michigan made their first court appearance on Saturday morning, hours after being caught hiding in a warehouse basement in Detroit.
James and Jennifer Crumbley appeared separately via video link and pleaded not guilty to each of the four charges of involuntary manslaughter against them.
The couple’s son, 15-year-old Ethan, gunned down four classmates at Oxford High School, north of Detroit, on Tuesday and wounded seven others.
Besides murder and other crimes, Ethan is also facing charges of terrorism, which is unprecedented for US mass shooting cases.
The charges against the parents are equally exceptional.
Prosecutors say they ignored their son’s disturbing behavior in the days and hours before the shooting, essentially encouraging it, and were culpable of involuntary manslaughter in the four deaths.
The Crumbleys were to be arraigned on Friday afternoon, but never showed up in court.
Police found out they had withdrawn $4,000 from an ATM on Friday and turned off their mobile phones, leading to a manhunt and a $10,000 reward for information leading to their arrest.
They were caught in the basement of an empty warehouse in Detroit late Friday night, after a citizen spotted their vehicle in the parking lot.
Their attorneys tried to argue that the pair was not “fleeing” and just gathering themselves for the court appearance.
The $4,000 withdrawal, they said, was a matter of getting their finances in order.
The judge rejected the arguments and set their bond at $500,000 each, just as the prosecution requested, making it far less likely that they will be released while awaiting trial.