Mother of school shooter convicted

A unique trial that will decide the fate of a family.
The mother of a school shooter in Michigan was convicted of four counts of involuntary manslaughter. After 11 hours of jury deliberation, Jennifer Crumbley was convicted last Tuesday on four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each of the four murders committed by her son during a shooting rampage at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2021.
Ms. Crumbley’s son, Ethan Crumbley, used a pistol to kill Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; Justin Shilling, 17; and Hana St, Juliana, 14. The 15-year-old injured seven others with the gun his parents gifted him.
The last few months have seen parents plead guilty to charges of reckless conduct or neglect in a push by some prosecutors to hold parents accountable if they are suspected of enabling their children to commit violence. However, the charges against Ms. Crumbley were much more significant, making this trial unprecedented.
On the morning of the 2021 shooting, E. Crumbley’s parents were asked to come to the school to discuss his violent drawing on a math assignment. The drawing accompanied the phrases: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me. My life is useless.”
The school was concerned that he may be suicidal but did not believe he was a threat to others. His parents did not take their son home and instead said they would look at a list of mental health services.
A few hours after, E. Crumbley took the Sig Sauer 9 mm handgun his parents purchased him out of his bookbag and shot 11 people, killing four. He pleaded guilty to 24 charges, including first-degree murder, and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole last year.
Prosecutors argued in front of a jury in Oakland County, Michigan, that Ms. Crumbley was grossly negligent in not securing the gun and that she had a legal duty to prevent her son from harming others despite not knowing what his specific plan was.
Four days before he committed Michigan’s deadliest school shooting, E. Crumbley’s father, James Crumbley, took him to the gun store where he purchased him the Sig Sauer he called his “beauty.” Ms. Crumbley then took him to a gun range that weekend and purchased him 100 rounds of ammunition.
According to trial testimony, Ms. Crumbley did not share this purchase with school officials during their morning meeting. She told jurors that it was “irrelevant: and said she saw no signs of mental distress. She proceeded to pin responsibility for gun storage on her husband, who will face trial in March.
The jury forewoman told NBC’s “Today” show that Ms. Crumbley was not a “super reliable witness.” She also stated that some jurors were influenced by E. Crumbley’s journal, where he discussed his parent’s lack of interest in his mental health. E. Crumbley did not testify at his mother’s trial.
Ms. Crumbley’s defense lawyer, Shannon Smith, argued during the trial that parenting is unpredictable. During her closing arguments, she said, “This case is a very dangerous one for parents out there.” Smith told the jury during closing statements, “I am asking that you find Jennifer Crumbley not guilty. 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.”
Legal experts have weighed in on the verdict, saying that while it is unprecedented for a parent to be held directly accountable in a school shooting, a verdict of this nature remains incredibly rare. Janet Johnson, a Florida criminal defense attorney, told CNN, “What’s historic is that parents aren’t generally responsible for unforeseen things their child could do, but this rose to the level where it was foreseeable.”
The prosecution tasked the jurors with deciding whether witness testimony and a collection of text messages were enough to know about Ms. Crumbley’s relationship with her son.
The jury was shown messages E. Crumbley exchanged with a friend in April 2021, where he complained of insomnia, paranoia, and hearing voices. Jurors also saw messages where E. Crumbley suggested to his mother that a demon haunted their home. Ms. Crumbley did not always respond to his messages.
A detective led jurors through E. Crumbley’s journal, which included writings about his plan to cause bloodshed accompanied by drawings of guns and pleas for mental health assistance. E. Crumbley wrote, “My parents won’t listen to me about help or a therapist.” Ms. Crymbley said that she never saw the journal, and her son never asked for a therapist.
The maximum sentence Ms. Crumbley could receive for involuntary manslaughter is 15 years in prison. Her sentencing will be on Apr. 9.

Post Author: Isabella Musollino