Jennifer Crumbley, the Michigan woman implicated in her son’s deadly school shooting incident in 2021, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter on Tuesday in the extraordinary case.
The unanimous verdict was reached on the second day of jury deliberations in a groundbreaking trial that centered around a unique question: Can a parent of a child responsible for a mass shooting also face criminal accountability?
Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of a student Ethan Crumbly who perpetrated a school shooting in Michigan Oxford High School in 2021, has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter.. pic.twitter.com/OLb15xSoIk— Channel3 Now (@channel3nownews) February 6, 2024
Crumbley, aged 45, faced four counts of involuntary manslaughter, corresponding to each victim of the attack at Oxford High School in November 2021. Her son, Ethan, now 17, admitted guilt as an adult to murder, terrorism, and other charges, receiving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in December.
She now faces a potential sentence of up to 15 years in prison for each count and remains detained on bond. Her sentencing is scheduled for April 9.
The trial, which commenced on January 25 in an Oakland County courtroom, delved into themes of responsible parenting and firearm safety, occurring during a significant period in the United States marked by a series of school shootings in communities such as Uvalde, Texas; Nashville; and Perry, Iowa.
Jurors in Oakland County scrutinized over 400 pieces of evidence, including text messages and images from Crumbley’s mobile phone, as well as compelling footage of the shooting incident, which visibly affected many individuals in the courtroom, in their quest to ascertain the extent to which a parent should be held responsible for their child’s actions.
The prosecution presented over 20 witnesses, including law enforcement officers and school personnel, while the defense called only one witness: the defendant herself. In their efforts to build their case, the prosecution sought to portray Crumbley as a negligent mother, emphasizing her apparent preoccupation with personal interests and an extramarital affair over her son’s well-being.
They highlighted the fact that she and her husband had given their son a semi-automatic handgun shortly before the shooting, yet failed to properly secure it. Furthermore, the prosecution pointed out that when the Crumbleys were summoned to the school earlier on the day of the shooting due to a troubling drawing depicting a gun made by their son, they did not disclose to school authorities that he had access to a firearm or take him home.
However, her defense attorney, Shannon Smith, suggested that James Crumbley was primarily responsible for storing the firearm, and argued that the school failed to adequately inform Jennifer Crumbley about Ethan’s struggles in class.
Smith urged the jury during her closing statement to acquit her client, “not just for Jennifer Crumbley, but for every mother who’s out there doing the best they can, who could easily be in her shoes.” James Crumbley, aged 47, is scheduled to face trial next month on the same charges of involuntary manslaughter. Jennifer Crumbley testified in her own defense, stating that her son had expressed concerns about his future after high school and had been “depressed,” but she never perceived his mental health issues as alarming enough to warrant professional intervention.
She admitted that she could have chosen to take him home on the day of the shooting, but she also did not perceive him as capable of committing such violence. Reflecting on the incident over two years later, she testified to the jury that she wouldn’t have changed her actions. “I don’t believe I failed as a parent,” she asserted.