Michigan mother found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in son’s school shooting

By: - February 6, 2024 3:45 pm

Jennifer Crumbley enters the courtroom of Oakland County Judge Cheryl Matthews on Thursday Jan. 25, 2024 to begin her trial on four counts of involuntary manslaughter. (Pool Photo Detroit Free Press)

A Michigan jury found Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of the Oxford High School shooter, guilty of involuntary manslaughter Tuesday.

In a first-of-its-kind case, the jury found that Crumbley bore enough responsibility for the deaths caused by her son’s actions that she should be held criminally liable.

At age 15, Crumbley’s son shot and killed four of his classmates at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2021, days after his father bought him a gun. Crumbley’s son was sentenced to life without parole in December.

Crumbley’s husband, James Crumbley, has a separate trial scheduled for March.

After two days of deliberations, a jury in Oakland County Circuit Court in metro Detroit delivered the guilty verdict for Jennifer Crumbley on four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each of the students killed: Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Hana St. Julianna and Justin Shilling.

The jury had been tasked by the court to determine whether Crumbley’s actions warranted involuntary manslaughter charges, which marks new legal ground for determining responsibility for a mass shooting.

Crumbley now faces up to 15 years in prison ahead of her sentencing scheduled for April 9.

Her defense argued during the trial that began on Jan. 25 that Crumbley couldn’t have known what her son was going to do. She was portrayed as an attentive parent who was aware that her son was going through a hard time, but nothing indicated he would become a school shooter.

“It was unforeseeable; no one expected this,” Shannon Smith, a lawyer for Crumbley, said in her closing arguments. “No one could have expected this, including Mrs. Crumbley.”

But the prosecution argued that Crumbley failed as a parent to perform her legal duty to exercise reasonable oversight to her son to prevent him from harming others and was negligent to the point that it harmed human life.

The prosecution proved Crumbley’s role in the shooting and how she could have intervened at several points beforehand to get her son help or secured the firearms in the home, but she didn’t, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said in her closing arguments.

“We have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that she is guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter. It’s a rare case. It takes some really egregious facts. It takes the unthinkable and she has done the unthinkable and because of that four kids have died,” McDonald said.

This is a breaking story that will be updated.

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Anna Liz Nichols
Anna Liz Nichols

Anna Liz Nichols covers government and statewide issues, including criminal justice, environmental issues, education and domestic and sexual violence. Anna is a former state government reporter for The Associated Press and her work has been seen in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe, among other publications, and most recently was a reporter for the Detroit News. Anna is a graduate of Michigan State University, where she studied journalism and environmental studies.

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