Jennifer Crumbley trial: Michigan jury finds school shooter’s mother guilty of involuntary manslaughter

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A Michigan jury found Jennifer Crumbley, mother of Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley, guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter in her historic criminal trial.
Jennifer and her husband, James Crumbley, were each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the shooting that left four students dead and seven others injured on Nov. 30, 2021. Jennifer will be sentenced on April 9.
James Crumbley is being tried separately. The Crumbleys are the first parents in U.S. history to stand trial for a mass school shooting.
“As a parent, you spend your whole life trying to protect your child from other dangers,” Jennifer Crumbley said on the witness stand Thursday while answering questions from the defense. “You never would think you’d have to protect your child from harming someone else. That’s what blew my mind. That was the hardest thing I had to stomach is that my child harmed and killed other people.”
Her defense team argued that she did not know her son was planning a school shooting and therefore shouldn’t be held accountable for Ethan’s crimes.
Meanwhile, the prosecution argued that Ethan’s many cries for help went ignored and that the then-15-year-old carried out the shooting using the gun his parents allegedly purchased for him as a gift.
Jennifer’s attorney, Shannon Smith, said the prosecution “cherry-picked evidence” to accuse Jennifer of involuntary manslaughter.
“It’s obvious real life is messy and complicated. And during this trial, I will openly admit that I’m a lawyer who messes up. … I am a human being, and so is Mrs. Crumbley, and that’s what this case is about. She’s not a perfect person or a perfect parent,” Smith said in her closing statements.
Smith added that the shooting “was clearly not foreseeable to Mrs. Crumbley.”
Prosecutors suggested Jennifer could have stopped the shooting before it happened when she arrived at Oxford High on the morning of Nov. 30, 2021, to meet with school counselors after Ethan was caught scrawling disturbing notes in class.
His notes included an image of a gun and the phrases “Help me,” “Blood everywhere” and “My life is useless,” along with a drawing of a gun.
“You could have been with him,” Oakland County assistant prosecutor Marc Keast said Friday.
“I could have, yes,” Jennifer Crumbley testified.
Ethan Crumbley pleaded guilty to murder and terrorism last year. He is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Instead of taking their son home, prosecutors said, Jennifer and her husband left him at school and went about their day. Ethan later took a gun from his backpack and shot a total of 11 people, four of whom died.
Prosecutors also said Ethan Crumbley made a 19-minute video the day before the shooting describing what he was going to do in school the next day.
After the shooting, the Crumbleys allegedly fled Oxford and went to Detroit following some initial questioning from police. U.S. Marshals eventually apprehended them days later on Dec. 4, 2021.
“The minute this shooting became public and ended up in the paper, in the media, Jennifer Crumbley started telling a story, and then she ran. And she didn’t run just because she was selfish. … She ran, and she started deleting text messages, and she started telling a different story because she knew she did something wrong,” Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said in her closing statements.

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