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Jury finds Jennifer Crumbley guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Oxford school shooting

Tingey Injury Law Firm

The mother of a Michigan teenager who killed four fellow students and wounded seven others during a mass shooting at Oxford High School in 2021 was convicted Tuesday in connection with her son’s crimes.

After two days of deliberation, Jennifer Crumbley, 45, was found guilty on four counts of involuntary manslaughter. It’s believed to be the first time a parent has been tried for manslaughter in connection with a mass shooting committed by their child.

When the verdict was read, Oakland County Judge Cheryl Matthews thanked jurors for their role in the case, acknowledging the difficulty and weight of the decision they had before them.

“We all know that this is one of the hardest things you have ever done,” Matthews said.

Prosecuting attorneys called more than 20 witnesses to testify throughout the seven-day trial in an effort to prove that the defendant and her husband, James Crumbley, ignored signs their son was seriously troubled, bought him the handgun he used in the school shooting and didn’t take steps to prevent the shooting from occurring.

Defense attorneys argued that prosecutors could not prove without a reasonable doubt that their client was aware of any mental health issues with her son leading up to the incident, saying the Crumbleys were just like any typical family and could not have foreseen his actions. The defense also alleged that it was James Crumbley, not Jennifer Crumbley, who was responsible for locking up the gun that would become the murder weapon.

Defense attorney Shannon Smith rested her case on Friday after the defense’s one witness, Jennifer Crumbley, testified on her own behalf.

The jury — six men and six women including some gun owners or people who grew up with guns — had sent a note to the judge Monday afternoon asking if it could “infer anything” from prosecutors not presenting Ethan Crumbley or others to explain specifically how he got access to a gun at home to shoot up Oxford High School.

“The answer is no,” Judge Matthews said. “You’re only allowed to consider the evidence that was admitted in the case.”

The case will set a precedent for James Crumbley’s manslaughter trial in March, as well a national precedent for whether parents can face serious charges because of a crime committed by their child.

Jennifer Crumbley’s sentencing will take place at 9 a.m. April 9. The maximum penalty for involuntary manslaughter is 15 years in prison.

Ethan Crumbley, now 17, pleaded guilty last year to 24 felonies — including murder and terrorism — and is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Quinn Klinefelter is a host and Senior News Editor for 101.9 WDET, anchoring midday newscasts and preparing reports for WDET, NPR and the BBC.