Mother of Michigan school shooter guilty of manslaughter, jury finds


A jury found Jennifer Crumbley, mother of a Michigan school shooter, guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Prosecutors said Crumbley was grossly negligent and could have foreseen the violence before his son opened fire at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2021.

The guilty verdicts – one for each student killed – were returned Tuesday after about 11 hours of jury deliberations.

Prosecutors say Jennifer Crumbley had a duty under Michigan law to prevent her son, who was 15 at the time, from harming others. She is accused of failing to obtain a gun and ammunition from her home and failing to get help for her son’s mental health.

The weapon – a 9mm handgun – had been purchased four days earlier, on Black Friday, by his father, James Crumbley. Jennifer Crumbley took her son to a shooting range that same weekend.

“You are the last adult to possess this weapon,” Assistant Prosecutor Marc Keast said during Jennifer Crumbley’s cross-examination last week. “You saw your son fire the last practice shot before the (school) shooting on Nov. 30. You saw how he stood… He knew how to use the gun.”

The teen’s mother replied: “Yes, he did.”

The jury of six men and six women included people who either owned guns or grew up with them in their homes. They said they could put aside their opinions on guns and serve fairly.

Oakland County Judge Cheryl Matthews thanked the jurors and said, “We all know this is one of the hardest things you’ve ever done.”

Judge Cheryl Matthews speaks with Assistant Prosecutor Marc Keast and Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald on Monday, February 5, 2024 in Pontiac, Michigan.
Judge Cheryl Matthews speaks Monday with Assistant Prosecutor Marc Keast and Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

Jennifer Crumbley will have served approximately two and a half years in the county jail when she returns to court for sentencing on April 9. The judge will set the minimum prison sentence, based on scoring guidelines and other factors.

It will be up to the Michigan Parole Board to determine how long she will actually stay in prison. The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 15 years.

Gun, injured man drawn on a math homework

The morning of the shooting, the school was concerned about a grisly drawing of a gun, a bullet and an injured man on the 15-year-old’s math homework, accompanied by the words: “The thoughts won’t stop . Help me.” But he was allowed to stay at school after a brief meeting with his parents, who did not take him home.

The teen took the gun out of his backpack that afternoon and shot 10 students and a teacher, killing four students. No one had checked his backpack.

Crumbley, 45, told jurors she wouldn’t have done anything differently but wished her son “would have killed us instead.” She denied he suffered from mental health problems.

“We talked. We did a lot of things together,” she testified. “I trusted him and I felt like I had an open door. He could come to me for anything.”

Handwritten messages are left at the memorial site Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, outside Oxford High School, in Oxford, Michigan.
Handwritten messages are left at a memorial site outside Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan. In November 2021, a 15-year-old killed four students and injured seven others during a school shooting in northern Oakland County. (Jake May/The Flint Journal/Associated Press)

But in a diary discovered by police, Ethan wrote that his parents would not listen to his cries for help.

“I have no help for my mental issues and this is causing me to skip school,” he wrote.

Jennifer and James Crumbley are the first parents in the United States to be charged in a mass school shooting committed by their child. James, 47, is scheduled to stand trial in March on the same manslaughter charges.

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

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