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Mother of Michigan School Shooter Ethan Crumbley Found Guilty of Manslaughter Login/Join 
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It is about time!
The mother of a Michigan teen who killed four students at his high school in 2021 was found guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter, the first time a parent of a school shooter has been convicted of homicide in connection with the attack.

Jennifer Crumbley, whose son, Ethan, pleaded guilty to four counts of murder in the killings at Oxford High about 40 miles north of Detroit and is serving life in prison, lowered her head slightly but showed little other reaction as the verdict was read in an Oakland County courtroom. The judge set a sentencing date of April 9.

Crumbley’s husband, James Crumbley, will stand trial for the same charges in a separate trial next month.

Prosecutors portrayed Crumbley as an out-of-touch parent, more concerned with her horses and a six-month affair she admitted had played out during the year of the shooting than about her son’s deteriorating mental state.

The case was the first time prosecutors had sought to pin direct responsibility for a school shooting on the parents of the shooter. Some legal experts cautioned that the case could open the door to charges against parents whose children might use other deadly items around the house, like a baseball bat. Gun control groups praised the move as a way to put parents on notice of the dangers of unsecured weapons in the home.


Ethan Crumbley is serving life in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of murder. PHOTO: CLARENCE TABB JR./POOL DETROIT NEWS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
“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,” said Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald in her closing argument.

The defense tried to counter that impression by putting Crumbley on the stand, showing Facebook posts of the family on trips and describing what Crumbley called “normal stuff” they did together like playing video games, skiing and swimming in the family pool.

“I’m asking you to find Jennifer Crumbley not guilty … for every mother who’s out there doing the best they can, who could easily be in her shoes,” said Shannon Smith, Crumbley’s attorney.

The trial was livestreamed and heavily covered by the media, providing fodder for lively online discussions and podcasts covering Crumbley’s culpability or lack thereof and the prosecution’s decision to bring the case. Online commenters also turned Smith, a flamboyant attorney with long flowing hair, who used examples of her own child-rearing and drinking habits to defend her client and quoted Taylor Swift in her opening statement, into a minor TikTok phenomenon. Videos focused on her in-court grooming and propensity to apologize, which she commented on during her closing argument.

Jeffrey Swartz, a criminal law professor at Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich., said the conviction sets a dangerous precedent. “Anything in your house that could be a weapon, could be a basis for you to be held liable if your child did anything to someone else,” he said.

Eve Brensike Primus, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, said the conviction didn’t necessarily mean the case would open the floodgates to charges against parents involved in school shootings because they are very difficult to prove. “The line between when your kid is a troubled teen, and when you should know that they’re dangerous in this way – and you’re disregarding the risk of them inflicting this kind of mass trauma – is a really challenging line,” she said.

To win their case, prosecutors had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Crumbley, who has been jailed along with her husband since December 2021, was guilty of manslaughter based on one of two legal theories. Under one theory, she failed to perform a legal duty to protect the victims of the shooting from a foreseeable threat posed by her son. Under the other, her behavior was “grossly negligent” based on what she knew about the circumstances and failed to act.


Prosecutors portrayed Jennifer Crumbley as an out-of-touch parent. PHOTO: BILL PUGLIANO/GETTY IMAGES
On the stand, Jennifer Crumbley described herself as a helicopter parent, who kept up on her son’s grades and was concerned about his lack of friends, but never imagined that he might be violent. She also said she did feel like some kind of a failure, though not necessarily as a parent. She said she had no idea what her son was planning and that her husband bought the gun a few days before the attack and was responsible for storing it.

“I’ve asked myself if I would have done anything differently and I wouldn’t have,” she said, although she did say there is something she would change about that day if she could: “I wish he would have killed us instead.”

But prosecutors pointed to texts and a diary showing that Ethan Crumbley, now 17, was slowly being pulled into depression and that his parents never took his own concerns about his mental state seriously.

In one series of texts cited by prosecutors, Ethan Crumbley told his mom that he thought there was a demon in the house and that it was throwing bowls. He pleaded with her to text him back. In her testimony, she said that she was driving back from the horse barn when the texts came in so wasn’t looking at her phone. The content of the texts weren’t troubling to her at all. “It was just him messing around,” she said.

One key to the case was Jennifer Crumbley’s decision not to take Ethan home from school on the day of the shooting, after he had drawn a bleeding person and a gun and wrote “blood everywhere,” “the voices won’t stop” and “help me” on a math sheet. The gun in the drawing had a striking resemblance to the one his parents had purchased for Ethan as a Christmas present a few days earlier, according to a prosecution witness.

Crumbley said that she would have taken Ethan home if he wanted to go, but that school officials gave her the option and indicated they didn’t think he posed a threat.

“As a parent, you spend your whole life trying to protect your child from other dangers,” she said. “You never think you would have to protect your child from harming somebody else. That’s what blew my mind.”



LINK https://www.wsj.com/us-news/mo...fff?mod=hp_lead_pos1
 
Posts: 17080 | Location: Stuck at home | Registered: January 02, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Nullus Anxietas
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Good! This is as it should be, IMO.




"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system,,,, but too early to shoot the bastards." -- Claire Wolfe
"If we let things terrify us, life will not be worth living." -- Seneca the Younger, Roman Stoic philosopher
"The dominant media is no more ``mainstream`` than leftists are liberals." -- me
 
Posts: 25900 | Location: S.E. Michigan | Registered: January 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
The Main Thing Is
Not To Get Excited
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The lawyers quoted seem fairly ambivalent about the verdict.

It's a fair bet that this 'Gun control groups praised the move as a way to put parents on notice of the dangers of unsecured weapons in the home.' has every bit as much to do with the verdict as the evidence.

The entry of the affair, however they presented it, certainly makes me wonder about the whole thing.

If all of this little maggots troubles were so obvious why didn't the school toss him that day?

Slipperey slopes and all of that come to mind.


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Posts: 6323 | Location: Washington | Registered: November 06, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If this sets the precedence for holding parents responsible for their children's actions, then I hope this gets extended to cases where their child is a vandal, a thief, a bully and a predator.
quote:
The entry of the affair, however they presented it, certainly makes me wonder about the whole thing.

If all of this little maggots troubles were so obvious why didn't the school toss him that day?

Slipperey slopes and all of that come to mind.

I'm sure there's a civil suit from the victims families that will expose the school district and school officers as being culpable.
 
Posts: 14482 | Location: Wine Country | Registered: September 20, 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Staring back
from the abyss
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I remember as a youngin', being under the impression that our parents would be held responsible for our wrongdoing. It certainly kept us in line back in the days of, "Just wait until your father gets home" actually meant something. I don't know if it was true or not, but it served it's purpose.

I don't know about this one, though. I'll have to think on it.

quote:
Originally posted by wishfull thinker:
Slippery slopes and all of that come to mind.

Yep.


________________________________________________________
"Great danger lies in the notion that we can reason with evil." Doug Patton.
 
Posts: 19867 | Location: Montana | Registered: November 01, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Internet Guru
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It's pretty subjective...our justice system.
 
Posts: 1947 | Registered: April 06, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Savor the limelight
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I’d like to hear the evidence the jury heard. The article doesn’t give me enough to say much.
 
Posts: 10726 | Location: SWFL | Registered: October 10, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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They appear to be horrible parents. Buying a gun for an unstable kid is a horrible idea. Not securing it as well. The day of the shooting I am surprised and bewildered that the school made it an "option" to stay. That seems wildly disconnected to common sense.

All that aside, this seems like a verdict that applied as it could be is wildly problematic. The reasoning that was "proven" seems easily manipulated by emotion.

Maybe this is great. I am not sure I want to cheer this just yet. I will ponder.
 
Posts: 7196 | Location: Florida | Registered: June 18, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by trapper189:
I’d like to hear the evidence the jury heard. The article doesn’t give me enough to say much.

I second that, although I do believe there should be some accountability for your kids actions that were in your control like access to your Sig collection, this is a slippery slope and may be overturned on appeal depending on evidence, simply just being a "bad" parent is not enough and "beyond a reasonable doubt" is the standard.


“Let us dare to read, think, speak and write.”

John Adams
 
Posts: 271 | Location: Land of 10000 Taxes | Registered: March 19, 2022Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Nullus Anxietas
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I haven't read the WSJ article, but perhaps this one is more informative: Oakland County jury finds Jennifer Crumbley guilty (Detroit News)

Capsule summary of the Prosecution's case:
quote:
Prosecutors portrayed Jennifer Crumbley, 45, as a negligent parent who ignored signs her teen son was in crisis, never got him help and bought him a 9mm gun anyway.
As for the day of the shooting: School officials tried to get his parents to remove him from the school. They were "too busy."




"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system,,,, but too early to shoot the bastards." -- Claire Wolfe
"If we let things terrify us, life will not be worth living." -- Seneca the Younger, Roman Stoic philosopher
"The dominant media is no more ``mainstream`` than leftists are liberals." -- me
 
Posts: 25900 | Location: S.E. Michigan | Registered: January 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
The Ice Cream Man
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This strikes me as extremely dangerous.

Now, it’s possible the parents behavior went completely behind the pale, but this seems like something which is incredibly dangerous as a precedent.

If this stands, letting your kid drive, if you know the kid gets drunk/high at times/not sending them to anger management if they get in fights/issues with suicide/etc.

It abrogates the idea of maturity as the child ages.

We have the opposite problem in our society. We need to be encouraging more autonomy of the youth, not less.
 
Posts: 5684 | Location: Republic of Ice Cream, Miami Beach, FL | Registered: May 24, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I hope this verdict sends a message. The school has an obligation as well. Many of the local schools call in a clinical psychologist to evaluate these kids. If needed they go to the local psychiatric facility and get further evaluation. Granted some of these threats are not predictable. If you are a decent parent you need not be concerned. It is interesting that schools are spending a fortune on security and very little upon prevention. Equal amounts of money need to be allocated to security and prevention.
 
Posts: 17080 | Location: Stuck at home | Registered: January 02, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
His diet consists of black
coffee, and sarcasm.
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quote:
Originally posted by pedropcola:

Buying a gun for an unstable kid is a horrible idea.

This has happened before. IMO one should only give a gun to a child who is reasonably stable and responsible to start with. One standard or criteria might be, for example, care of the family pet(s). Can't be bothered to feed or clean up after a pet? No guns for you. Guns and shooting will not impart structure and discipline to a child who has neither.
 
Posts: 27740 | Location: Johnson City/Elizabethton, TN | Registered: April 28, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Just because you can,
doesn't mean you should
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quote:
It abrogates the idea of maturity as the child ages.



The kid was 15 at the time.

He was showing all sorts of signs of troubling mental issues including showing her a drawing of a picture of a himself with a rifle & blood, the morning of the shooting and hearing voices and other delusional behavior.

The school is next, no doubt due to having assets and insurance. However the officials there were terribly negligent too.
In that case there should be sanctions of some sort against the particular officials as they told the mother she could take him home that day or leave him to continue to go to class.
At the very least, fire them.

The father is next up on the same charges.

This needs to be used carefully, but parents, if any are to be found should be held responsible in some way for minors when the negligence is this egregious.
Bartenders that continue to serve to obviously impaired customers that hurt or kill others are already being held accountable for their part.


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Posts: 9387 | Location: NE GA | Registered: August 22, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Now in Florida
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I'll be the guy with the unfavorable opinion. I do not like the idea of holding parents responsible for the crimes of their kids. Sure, maybe they could go after her for some kind of crime related to her parenting - abuse, neglect, etc. But to charge her and convict her of homicide for murders committed by her kid? I don't like the precedent that sets as a legal matter.
 
Posts: 6056 | Location: FL | Registered: March 09, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Do you think straw purchases are OK?
 
Posts: 17080 | Location: Stuck at home | Registered: January 02, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I didn't follow the case.....did the school at any point go through the kid's backpack after the drawing was discovered?


P229
 
Posts: 3795 | Location: Sacramento, CA | Registered: November 21, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Optimistic Cynic
Picture of architect
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Further convictions of this type will have a chilling effect on parents who want to introduce their kids to the shooting sports. The time-honored tradition of a youngster "becoming an adult" with a birthday gift of a firearm may be nearing an end. You can bet that a similar line of thinking will not be applied to crimes like drug dealing, shoplifting, mugging, etc. in the "underserved" population.
 
Posts: 6343 | Location: NoVA | Registered: July 22, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
thin skin can't win
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quote:
Originally posted by ZSMICHAEL:
If you are a decent parent you need not be concerned.


Decent parents with bad teenagers certainly do. Not all of those are the direct result of bad parenting, and some go horribly far off the rails.



You only have integrity once. - imprezaguy02

 
Posts: 12310 | Location: Madison, MS | Registered: December 10, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Based on everything I know about this situation, it seems to me that the parents were naive and negligent. And so was the school.
What bothers me about this is that men have reached a point in this country where those closest to us, your wife, girlfriend or kids can be considered a threat to you.
Lets say your 16-year-old newly licensed kid T-bones someone at an intersection and injures or kills someone. Are you as a parent now criminally liable? What standard of lack of care could be used to prosecute you in that case, which probably happens way more than school shootings?


End of Earth: 2 Miles
Upper Peninsula: 4 Miles
 
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