By Jon King /

The parents of the Oxford High School student charged with murdering four of his classmates, made a brief appearance in court Tuesday on charges that were filed after authorities said they failed to prevent the tragedy.

James and Jennifer Crumbley are each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, to which they have pleaded not guilty. The couple, who were arrested several days after the shootings hiding in a commercial building in Detroit, appeared in court wearing prison uniforms and in chains.

Tuesday’s hearing had been scheduled to determine whether prosecutors have probable cause to proceed with criminal proceedings. But Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald says they need more time to collect and share additional evidence against the parents.

Judge Julie Nicholson granted a request by prosecutors and defense lawyers to postpone until Feb. 8 a key hearing that will determine whether the elder Crumbleys will face a trial, instead of plowing ahead on Dec. 22.

“These funerals have just recently concluded,” McDonald said. “The prosecutor’s office has a lot of work to do with a lot of the victims and the families. We do not think it’s in their best interest or in the interests of justice to do that during the holiday season.”

The Crumbleys are accused of giving their son access to a gun and failing to intervene when they were confronted with his disturbing drawings a few hours before the Nov. 30 shooting. They remain in jail, apparently unable to pay bonds of $500,000 each, though defense attorney Shannon Smith said she would ask for new terms on Jan. 7.

The prosecutor said that a delay in court proceedings would help her office prepare and also give Oxford “time to heal to the extent that’s possible.”
In court, the Crumbleys sat on the outside of their two lawyers. But when the lawyers got up to speak privately to the judge, James Crumbley mouthed “I love you” to his wife.

They are accused of failing to step in on the day of the tragedy despite being confronted with a drawing and chilling message — “blood everywhere” — that was found at the boy’s desk.

Oxford High School has been closed since the shooting. Athletes began returning to competition Monday.

Other schools in the Oxford district were closed Tuesday out of “an abundance of caution” after an online threat was directed at a middle school, officials said. Online threats against Michigan schools have occurred since the shooting and led to closings elsewhere as well as charges.