Jan 23, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Involuntary manslaughter trial begins for mother of Michigan school shooter

Jennifer Crumbley on the left in a striped gray/white shirt wearing a mask, attorney in the middle, and James Crumbley on the left in an orange shirt and mask.

Jennifer Crumbley (L) and her husband James Crumbley (R), parents of Ethan Crumbley appear in court for their pretrial hearing with James Crumbley's defense attorney Mariell Lehman (C) in March 2022 in Pontiac, Michigan. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The mother of a convicted school shooter is in a Michigan court on Tuesday for the start of a trial that will determine her culpability in the 2021 Oxford High mass shooting.

Why it matters: Jennifer Crumbley, and her husband James, are the first parents in the U.S. to face criminal charges after their child carried out a mass shooting. Prosecutors have said they made a gun accessible to their son and ignored his mental health needs leading up to the shooting, which left four dead.

  • More than 200 people appeared at Oakland County Court, roughly 40 miles outside of Detroit, on Tuesday for jury selection in Jennifer Crumbley's trial, the AP reported.

The big picture: The gunman, Ethan Crumbley, was sentenced to life in prison in December after pleading guilty to 24 charges, including four counts of first-degree murder and one terrorism related count.

  • His parents each pleaded not guilty in 2021 to four counts of involuntary manslaughter.
  • Each count of involuntary manslaughter could carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, per AP. Both parents have been in jail for more than two years while awaiting trial because they could not afford bond.

Details: Days before the shooting, school administrators contacted them after a teacher caught Ethan Crumbley searching for ammunition on his phone during class.

  • On the day of the shooting, a teacher found a drawing by Ethan with a figure of a gun and a person who was shot. His parents were again contacted, but they didn't feel comfortable having him leave school.
  • "Ethan don't do it," his mother texted him after going to the school. His father then reported a missing gun from their home to the police.

What's next: James Crumbley will stand trial in March, per the AP.

  • A judge granted the parents' request to have separate trials late last year.

Go deeper: Michigan school shooter sentenced to life in prison without parole

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