Horrific killing of 4 students: Jennifer Crumbly found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in son’s school shooting

Jennifer Crumbley, the Michigan mother indicted in connection with her son’s deadly school shooting rampage in 2021, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter on Tuesday in a unique case.

The unanimous judgment came on the second day of jury deliberations in a landmark trial that saw Crumbley become the first parent to be judged criminally accountable for their child’s mass shooting.

Crumbley, 45, was found guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each of the victims of the November 2021 attack at Oxford High School.

Horrific killing of 4 students: Jennifer Crumbly found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in son's school shooting

Her now-17-year-old son, Ethan, pled guilty as an adult to murder, terrorism, and other crimes and was sentenced to life in prison without parole in December.

She now faces up to 15 years in jail per offense and is being detained on bond. She will be sentenced on April 9.

“It was very difficult,” a jury member said following the ruling. “Lives hung in the balance, and we took that very seriously.”

The juror stated that the judgment was mostly based on who was the last adult to handle the weapon.

“The thing that really hammered it home was that she was the last adult with the gun,” stated one of the jurors.

Craig Shilling, the father of Justin Shilling, 17, one of the four people killed in the school shooting, burst into tears as the verdict was announced. He also hugged Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald and her staff, as well as shook the hands of the cops who testified.

Horrific killing of 4 students: Jennifer Crumbly found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in son's school shooting

“We have been asking for accountability across the board, and this is one step towards that,” Shilling said outside the courthouse. “I feel that moving forward is not going to be any easier because of what we left behind, but it gives us hope for a brighter future.”

The trial, which began Jan. 25 in an Oakland County courthouse, focused on themes of good parenting and gun safety, and it came at a critical time in the United States, when a string of school shootings has roiled places such as Uvalde, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; and Perry, Iowa.

In an effort to determine to what extent a parent should be held accountable for their child’s actions, jurors in Oakland County examined more than 400 pieces of evidence, including text messages and photos from Crumbley’s cellphone, as well as dramatic video of the shooting spree, which left many in the courtroom visibly shaking.

The prosecution called almost 20 witnesses, including law enforcement officers and school staff members, while the defense called only one: the defendant.

To make its case, the prosecution attempted to depict Crumbley as a neglectful mother who prioritized her hobbies and adulterous affairs over spending time with her kid. Prosecutors claim that when she and her husband handed their son a semi-automatic handgun as a gift in the days leading up to the incident, neither of them properly stored the weapon.

On the day of the incident, after being summoned to the school due to their son’s frightening drawing of a pistol, the Crumbleys failed to inform school officials that he had access to a weapon or take him home.

Ethan Crumbly went on to kill four students: Justin Shilling, Madisyn Baldwin (17), Tate Myre (16), and Hana St. Juliana (14).

Shannon Smith, Crumbley’s defense lawyer, stated that James Crumbley was particularly in charge of storing the firearm and that the school was aware Ethan was having difficulty paying attention in class but did not completely alert Jennifer Crumbley.

In her final argument, Smith urged the jurors 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.”

Horrific killing of 4 students: Jennifer Crumbly found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in son's school shooting

James Crumbley, 47, is scheduled to face trial next month on the same involuntary manslaughter accusations. The judge in Crumbley’s trial issued a gag order, prohibiting the prosecution and defense from speaking publicly until after the trial.

Jennifer Crumbley takes the stand to defend herself. She testified that her son was generally concerned about his future after high school and was “depressed,” but that his mental health never disturbed her to the point where she believed he should visit a specialist.

She admitted that she could have taken him home on the day of the shooting, but she did not believe he was capable of such violence. More than two years after the shooting, she told the jury she “wouldn’t have” done anything differently.

“I don’t think I’m a failure as a parent,” she told me.

Craig Shilling stated that the jury’s judgment demonstrates how crucial it is for parents to be aware of their children’s needs.

“Do your due diligence with your child,” he went on to say. “You cannot choose to take your own interest over your child, especially when it comes to mental health.”

Gun safety advocates reinforced the verdict’s message that parents can be held accountable.

“Plain and simple, the deadly shooting at Oxford High School in 2021 should have — and could have — been avoided if the Crumbleys had not purchased a gun for their 15-year-old son,” Nick Suplina, senior vice president for law and policy at Everytown for pistol Safety, said in a statement. “This decision is an important step forward in ensuring accountability and, hopefully, preventing future tragedies.”


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