A jury has found Jennifer Crumbley, mother of a Michigan school shooter, guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Prosecutors said Jennifer Crumbley was grossly negligent and could have foreseen the violenceThe Associated Press
· Posted: Feb 06, 2024 1:51 PM EST | Last Updated: February 7
Jennifer Crumbley, right, stands in court with her lawyer, Shannon Smith, on Monday in Pontiac, Mich. Crumbley was found guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter stemming from a November 2021 school shooting committed by her son, who was 15 at the time. (Carlos Osorio/The Associated Press)A jury has found Jennifer Crumbley, mother of a Michigan school shooter, guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Prosecutors said Crumbley was grossly negligent and could have foreseen the violence before her son opened fire at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2021.
The guilty verdicts — one for each student slain — were returned on Tuesday after roughly 11 hours of jury deliberations.
Prosecutors say Crumbley had a duty under Michigan law to prevent her son, Ethan, who was 15 at the time, from harming others. She’s accused of failing to secure a gun and ammunition at home and failing to get help for her son’s mental health.
The weapon — a 9mm handgun — had been purchased just four days earlier on Black Friday by the boy’s father, James Crumbley. Jennifer Crumbley took her son to a shooting range that same weekend.
“You’re the last adult to have possession of that gun,” assistant prosecutor Marc Keast said while cross-examining Jennifer Crumbley last week.
“You saw your son shoot the last practice round before the [school] shooting on Nov. 30. You saw how he stood … He knew how to use the gun.”
The teen’s mother replied, “Yes, he did.”
The jury of six men and six women included people who own guns or grew up with them in their home. They said they could put their opinions about guns aside and serve fairly.
Oakland County Judge Cheryl Matthews thanked the jurors and said: “We all know that this was one of the hardest things you’ve ever done.”
Judge Cheryl Matthews, centre, talks to assistant prosecutor Marc Keast and Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald in court on Monday. (Carlos Osorio/The Associated Press)Victim’s father ‘happy with the verdict’Jennifer Crumbley will get credit for roughly two and a half years in the county jail when she returns to court for sentencing on April 9. The judge will set the minimum prison sentence, based on scoring guidelines and other factors.
It will be up to the Michigan Parole Board to determine how long she actually stays in prison. The maximum term for involuntary manslaughter is 15 years. Prosecutors have not said if they will ask for consecutive sentences on the four involuntary manslaughter convictions, which could mean a maximum of 60 years if the judge agrees.
“The cries have been heard, and I feel this verdict is gonna echo throughout every household in the country,” Craig Shilling, the father of victim Justin Shilling, told reporters.
“I feel it’s necessary, and I’m happy with the verdict. It’s still a sad situation to be in. It’s gotta stop. It’s an accountability, and this is what we’ve been asking for for a long time now,” he said.
A gag order by the judge prevented prosecutor Karen McDonald and defence lawyer Shannon Smith from speaking to reporters.
Craig Shilling, left, the father of Oxford High School shooting victim Justin Shilling, speaks to McDonald before the beginning of the trial last month. (Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press/The Associated Press)Gun, wounded man drawn on math assignmentOn the morning of the shootings, the school was concerned about a macabre drawing of a gun, bullet and wounded man on Ethan’s math assignment, accompanied by the words: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me. The world is dead. My life is useless.” But he was allowed to stay in school following a brief meeting with his parents, who did not take him home.
The teen pulled the gun from his backpack that afternoon and shot 10 students and a teacher, killing four students. No one had checked his backpack.
In her closing argument Friday, McDonald said she filed the unprecedented charges because of the “unique, egregious” facts leading up to the massacre.
School officials insisted they would not have agreed to keep Ethan Crumbley on campus that day if his parents had shared information about the new gun, which the boy had called his “beauty” on social media.
“He literally drew a picture of what he was going to do,” McDonald said. “It says, ‘Help me.’ ”
Handwritten messages are left at a memorial site outside Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich. In November 2021, a 15-year-old killed four students and wounded seven others in a shooting at the northern Oakland County school. (Jake May/The Flint Journal/The Associated Press)Mother denied son had mental health problemsCrumbley, 45, told jurors that she would not have done anything differently but wished her son had “killed us instead.” She denied that he had mental health problems.
“We would talk. We did a lot of things together,” she testified. “I trusted him, and I felt I had an open door. He could come to me about anything.”
WATCH | Prosecutors say Crumbley had duty to prevent her son from harming others:
Michigan school shooter’s mother found guilty of involuntary manslaughterA jury has found Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of a school shooter in Michigan, guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter. She was accused of failing to secure a gun and ammunition at home and failing to get help for her son’s mental health issues.
But in a journal found by police, Ethan wrote that his parents wouldn’t listen to his pleas for help.
“I have zero help for my mental problems and it’s causing me to shoot up the …� school,” he wrote.
Jennifer and James Crumbley are the first parents in the United States to be charged in a mass school shooting committed by their child. James, 47, is scheduled for trial in March on the same involuntary manslaughter charges.
Ethan, now 17, is serving a life sentence for murder and terrorism after pleading guilty to the charges in October 2022.