Attorneys in Jennifer Crumbley case battle over courtroom emotions: 'I was not sobbing'

The attorneys of both Jennifer Crumbley and the state got into a heated debated Thursday morning in court over emotional reactions inside the courtroom.

The trial of Jennifer Crumbley was always expected to be an emotional one and that came true during the first day of testimony. During the second witness was called by the prosecution, Oxford assistant principal Kristy Gibson-Marshall, loud sniffles and crying can be heard.

When it was the defense's turn to cross-examine Gibson-Marshall, attorney Shannon Smith stood up and said she couldn't think straight before apologizing and saying she had no questions for the witness. 

As she was dismissed, Smith stood up and asked the court for a break, which was granted by Judge Cheryl Matthews. After the jury and Jennifer Crumbley both left the courtroom, Smith and Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald went back on the record with the judge about the emotional testimony.

McDonald asked about influencing the jury, after saying they were instructed not to show emotion during the trial to not influence the jury – but says the defense is not following the order..

"You're concerned about the 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…I think if if that is the instruction we are trying really hard to respect the court's instruction because I understand the reason for it," she said.


Shannon Smith, Jennifer Crumbleys attorney in the case linked to the Oxford High School shooting, speaks about an emotional moment in the court on day one of the trial.

"I didn't tell people not to show emotion. I think some of that is involuntary, but there are good times in this courtroom. During trials when people will show facial expressions or they'll or know things like that or make comments. I understand 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. I didn't tell anybody not to show emotion I guess some emotion is involuntary. So I guess I'm asking what you're asking," Matthews said.

Smith took issue with the claims that she was sobbing in court.

"I was not sobbing and is horrific," Smith said, referencing video that was shown to the courtroom but not streamed. The video showed the scene after the shooting, including the victims in the hallway. "It's horrific. That's why we ask the court not to play it. This is horrific…she's watched it 100 times with these witnesses. It's horrific."

Smith said she hadn't seen the video and it wasn't relevant to the case and Matthews then asked them both to quiet down to prevent the jury next door from hearing the arguments.

"Keep the voices down, because I'm sorry. Why the. The walls of cardboard. Everyone here is human, right? I understand that. I just. I was trying really hard to keep both sides a fair trial. And if it's, you know, at least try to check themselves the facts. If that is excruciating, which I know it is, I'm not a robot. I'm trying to keep myself from sobbing. I'll do it at 6:00 tonight. Okay."

With that, Matthews said they would break for ten minutes, hear from the next witness, and then take a lunch break.