Lawyers argue about tears during Jennifer Crumbley trial testimony

ATTORNEY

OXFORD, Mich. – The Oakland County prosecutor and the defense attorney for Jennifer Crumbley got into an argument in the courtroom over “sobbing” during evidence that showed video of the Oxford High School shooting.

The dispute took place between Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald and defense attorney Shannon Smith after the prosecution called assistant principal Kristy Gibson-Marshall to the stand.

Gibson-Marshall talked about walking through the hallways and crossing paths with the shooter near an injured Tate Myre, who was killed in the shooting.

“Your Honor, is there any way we could have a minute?” Smith asked after the court watched surveillance video from the hallways of Oxford High School during the shooting. “I’m so sorry, can we just have a minute, like a break or — could we have a 10-minute break, please?”

Judge Cheryl A. Matthews granted the break and dismissed the jury from the room. Before Oakland County deputies could escort Jennifer Crumbley from the room, McDonald asked to briefly go back on the record.

“Are we on the record?” McDonald asked. “Can we go back on the record?”

“You want to be on the record?” Matthews asked.

“Yes,” McDonald said.

“Your Honor, this court upon the defense’s request, instructed the prosecutors not to show emotion. You instructed the prosecutors to tell our witnesses not to tell emotion, and you instructed us to let our victims know –”

“I don’t think that’s actually what I said,” Matthew said.

“I understand the ruling, Your Honor, I do,” McDonald said. “You’re concerned about influence of the jury. I take no issue with it. But it was a difficult thing. It’s difficult, and we’re doing it. And then to have, not just the defendant, her lawyer sit there sobbing so that–”

“I did not sob,” Smith said.

“I just want to finish, Your Honor,” McDonald said. “I just want to finish. I just think if that is the instruction, we are trying really hard to respect the court’s instruction because I understand the reason for it.”

“OK, I didn’t tell people not to show emotion,” Matthew said. “Some of that is involuntary, but there have been times in this courtroom during trials when people will show facial expressions or things like that or make comments. This is a very emotional situation for everyone here, right? If someone was audibly sobbing in the audience, I would hope that they would exit. As you said, the reason for it, I didn’t tell anyone not to show emotion. I guess some emotion is involuntary so I guess I’m asking what you’re asking of me.”

“I think it just — it should apply to both sides,” McDonald said.

“Your Honor, first of all, I was not sobbing,” Smith said. “This is horrific. This is horrific.”

“I’ve never seen this before,” defense attorney Shaun Godwin said.

“It’s horrific,” Smith said. “That’s why we asked the court not to play it. This is horrific. I don’t know how the prosecutors — she’s watched it 100 times. It’s horrific.”

“You had this video for over two months,” Matthews said.

“No, I don’t have this video,” Smith said. “I have to go to their office to watch it.”

“You’ve seen it, Ms. Smith,” Matthew said.

“No, I haven’t, Smith said. “Because it’s not necessary. It’s not relevant to my client’s case. We’ve already litigated this. We’re doing our best. We were not sobbing or making a scene. All my eye makeup’s still on. I checked my camera.”

“I’m not having a fight with her,” McDonald said. “I just want to make a record.”

“I need to run to the bathroom,” Smith said. “I need a break.”

“OK, OK, we’re having a break,” Matthews said. “That’s what we’re doing. And you’ve got to keep your voices down.”

“I’m sorry, I–” Smith said.

“The walls are cardboard in here,” Matthews said. “Everyone here is human. Everyone here is human, I understand that. I’m striving really hard to give both sides a fair trial, and if people don’t at least try to check themselves, to exit if it’s that excruciating, which I know it is. I’m not a robot. I’m trying to keep myself from sobbing. I’ll do it at 6 o’clock tonight.”

“I appreciate that, Your Honor, that’s all I’m asking,” McDonald said.

“Your Honor, we don’t have the option to leave the courtroom,” Smith said. “We’re trying our best. I promise you we are trying our best.”

“OK, everyone needs to take a deep breath,” Matthews said.

The court then took a short break.

You can see video of the confrontation below.

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