PONTIAC, Mich. – The mother of Michigan school shooter Ethan Crumbley, Jennifer Crumbley, has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the shooting deaths of four students at Oxford High School in November 2021.
Crumbley was convicted of four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each victim: Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; Justin Shilling, 17; and Hana St. Juliana, 14. The jury deliberated for roughly 11 hours before reaching a verdict, which came down to the fact that Jennifer was the last adult with the gun. Sentencing is scheduled for April 9.
Crumbley and her husband, James Crumbley, are a rare case of parents being charged in connection with a shooting carried out by their son. James Crumbley, who also faces four counts of involuntary manslaughter, will have a separate trial in March. Ethan Crumbley, 15 years old at the time of the shooting, has already been sentenced to life in prison for the attack.
During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that the Crumbley parents failed to respond to warning signs exhibited by the shooter prior to the attack, including violent drawings and online searches for bullets. School officials had even called the parents to the school the morning of the shooting after finding these warning signs, but the parents chose not to take their son home despite the school’s recommendation for immediate help.
In addition, it was revealed during the trial that Jennifer Crumbley had been having an extramarital affair, a fact that was initially excluded from the trial but later admitted into evidence. During the defense’s questioning, it was suggested that police had intimidated and threatened the individual with whom Crumbley had the affair, leading to a push by prosecutors to include evidence of the affair. Crumbley later confirmed the affair when she took the stand in her own defense, admitting to a six-month affair that took place during work hours.
The guilty verdict has been met with relief and satisfaction by the families of the victims, who hope for accountability for what they see as a “systemic failure” that led to the shooting. Prosecutors argued that the parents did not secure the gun used in the shooting or limit their son’s access to it, a point that was emphasized during the trial.
The case serves as a somber reminder of the consequences of failing to recognize warning signs and secure firearms, and it is also a cautionary tale about the importance of addressing mental health concerns in young individuals before they escalate to tragic levels. In the wake of this verdict, discussions about gun safety, mental health awareness, and parental accountability are likely to continue.