Trial Jury Deliberates Mother’s Responsibility in School Shooting

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) – A Michigan jury deliberated for a full day Monday in the trial against the mother of a school shooter, who could face involuntary manslaughter charges in connection with the deaths of four students in 2021. The jury will continue deliberations on Tuesday for a second day.

Prosecutors argue that Jennifer Crumbley had a responsibility under Michigan law to prevent her son from causing harm to others. She is accused of allowing a gun and ammunition to be accessible at home, as well as failing to address Ethan Crumbley’s mental health issues.

According to evidence presented in court, Jennifer Crumbley did not inform Oxford High School that the family had acquired a new 9 mm handgun, which Ethan Crumbley had used at a shooting range shortly before the attack.

During the deliberations on Monday, the jury asked the judge if they could make any inferences from the fact that prosecutors did not present Ethan Crumbley or others to explain how he obtained the gun from home. The judge clarified that the jury could only consider the evidence admitted in the case.

The tragic events on Nov. 30, 2021, unfolded after Ethan Crumbley’s school raised concerns about a violent drawing he had submitted for a math assignment. Despite this, he was allowed to remain in school after a brief meeting with his parents, who did not take him home. Later that day, he pulled out the gun from his backpack and shot 10 students and a teacher, resulting in the deaths of four students.

The prosecution argued that Jennifer Crumbley was aware of the gun in the drawing, knowing that it was identical to the new one at home. They claimed that the tragedy could have been prevented by taking “the smallest steps.”

Ethan Crumbley has already pleaded guilty to murder and terrorism charges, receiving a life sentence. His mother wanted to call him as a defense witness during the trial, but his lawyers stated that he would invoke his right to remain silent.

A conviction in this case, the defense argued, could have a chilling effect on parents who are unaware of their children’s unlawful activities. They maintained that the tragedy was not foreseeable and that the responsibility for the gun lay with James Crumbley, not his wife.

The jury, consisting of six men and six women, includes individuals with experience owning guns or growing up in households with firearms.

The Crumbley parents are the first in the U.S. to be charged in connection with a mass school shooting committed by their child. Their son, Ethan, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, lamented in a journal found by police that no one would listen to his pleas for help.

The maximum penalty for involuntary manslaughter is 15 years in prison. Jennifer and James Crumbley have been in jail for over two years, unable to post a $500,000 bond while awaiting trial.