Opening remarks, evidence next in manslaughter trial of Michigan school shooter's dad

Jurors will soon hear opening statements and the first batch of witnesses in the trial of the second parent accused of having responsibility for a Michigan school shooting

Ed White
Thursday 07 March 2024 05:18 GMT
School Shooting-Father Charged
School Shooting-Father Charged

Jurors will hear opening statements and the first batch of witnesses Thursday in the trial of the second parent accused of having responsibility for a Michigan school shooting committed by his son.

James Crumbley, 47, is charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each teenager killed by Ethan Crumbley at Oxford High School in 2021.

The father is accused of failing to safely store a gun and ammunition at home and ignoring the mental health needs of his son, who was 15 at the time of the shooting.

Lawyers picked a jury Wednesday after nearly two days of asking people for their views about guns, mental illness and the challenges of raising teenagers. The judge also wanted to scratch anyone who said they couldn't be fair following extensive publicity about the tragedy.

“Are you able to set aside any sympathy you naturally feel and decide this case on evidence and facts?” Judge Cheryl Matthews asked.

James and Jennifer Crumbley are the first U.S. parents to be charged with having criminal responsibility for a mass school shooting committed by a child. Jennifer Crumbley was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in February.

James Crumbley, accompanied by Ethan, bought a Sig Sauer 9 mm handgun over Thanksgiving weekend in 2021. The boy called it his “new beauty” on social media. His mother described the gun as a Christmas gift and took him to a shooting range.

Four days after the purchase, the parents went to Oxford High to discuss a violent image their son had drawn on a math assignment, accompanied by disturbing phrases: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me." There was a gun on the paper that looked similar to the Sig Sauer.

The Crumbleys didn't take Ethan home, and school staff — believing he might be suicidal — also didn't demand it. But no one checked the boy’s backpack for a gun, and the shooting happened that afternoon.

Defense lawyers insist the parents could not have foreseen the shooting and didn't commit a crime. One man was excused from the jury pool Wednesday when he said the charges were an “injustice” and a response to a “mob.”

Defense attorney Mariell Lehman repeatedly asked prospective jurors about their trust of teenagers and their own parenting styles.

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

Jennifer Crumbley, 45, is scheduled to return to court for her sentence on April 9. Her minimum prison term could be as high as 10 years.


Follow Ed White on X, formerly Twitter: @edwritez

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