Prosecutor urges jury to convict Michigan school shooter's dad, says he could have prevented tragedy

A jury in Michigan is hearing closing arguments in the trial of a Michigan school shooter's father

Ed White
Wednesday 13 March 2024 18:09 GMT

A prosecutor urged jurors to convict the father of a Michigan school shooter on Wednesday, saying he ignored the "easiest, most glaring opportunities" to prevent the killing of four students, especially when confronted with his son's violent classroom drawing.

Instead of taking Ethan Crumbley home, James Crumbley left Oxford High School with his wife and made DoorDash runs, passing near their home during deliveries, prosecutor Karen McDonald said.

He didn't search the house to make sure the gun was secured until after he learned that someone had shot up the school. That's when he call 911.

“This case is not about holding James Crumbley responsible for what his son did," McDonald said. “It’s about his legal duty and his failure to perform it.”

Crumbley, 47, is charged with involuntary manslaughter, accused of failing to safely secure the gun used by 15-year-old Ethan and not seeking help for the boy's mental distress.

Parents in Michigan have a “legal duty” to exercise reasonable care to prevent their child from harming others, the prosecutor said.

“James Crumbley was presented with the easiest, most glaring opportunities to prevent the deaths of four students and he did nothing," McDonald said. “He did nothing — over and over and over again.”

The boy took the gun to school, killing four students and wounding seven more people on Nov. 30, 2021. Investigators said a cable that could have locked the gun case was still in a package.

Ethan's mental state was declining: He made a macabre drawing of a gun and a wounded man on a math assignment and added disturbing phrases, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me. Blood everywhere. The world is dead.”

But the parents declined to take Ethan home following a brief meeting at the school, accepting only a list of mental health providers. They didn't tell school staff that a Sig Sauer 9 mm handgun had been purchased by James Crumbley just four days earlier.

Ethan called it “my beauty” on social media. He pulled it from his backpack and began shooting. No one had checked the bag.

Earlier in November 2021, he wrote in his journal that he needed help for his mental health "but my parents don’t listen to me so I can’t get any help.”

Defense attorney Mariell Lehman rested her case after calling just one witness, Ethan's aunt. James Crumbley declined to testify, telling the judge he understood the risks and benefits of speaking to the jury.

“He didn't know that his son knew where those firearms were,” Lehman told the jury. “Absence of evidence ... can be your reasonable doubt.”

The victims were Justin Shilling, 17, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Hana St. Juliana, 14, and Tate Myre, 16.

The Crumbleys are the first U.S. parents to be charged with having criminal responsibility for a mass school shooting committed by a child. Jennifer Crumbley, 45, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter last month.

Testifying at her own trial, she told the jury that she wouldn’t have done anything differently.

Ethan Crumbley, now 17, is serving a life prison sentence for murder and terrorism.


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