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HomeGeneralCourt Declares James Crumbley, Father of Michigan School Shooter, Guilty of Manslaughter

Court Declares James Crumbley, Father of Michigan School Shooter, Guilty of Manslaughter

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Ethan Crumbley in court
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Thursday saw a jury convict James Crumbley of involuntary manslaughter in connection with his teenage son’s deadly school shooting in 2021. His wife, the boy’s mother, was also found guilty last month on the same charge.

The jury made their decision after about 10 hours of deliberations, concluding a landmark case that, for the first time in the U.S., held the parents of a mass school shooter criminally responsible. 

James and Jennifer Crumbley’s son, Ethan, was 15 when he shot several of his schoolmates at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit. He pleaded guilty as an adult and was sentenced in December to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“These were egregious facts in this case. These parents could have prevented this tragedy. It was foreseeable,” Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said after the verdict. “With just the smallest of efforts, they could have prevented this shooting and saved these kids’ lives.”

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James Crumbley, 47, faces up to 15 years in prison, while his wife, Jennifer Crumbley, 45, will be sentenced in April. According to prosecutors, James Crumbley bought Ethan a 9 mm Sig Sauer as a gift a day after Thanksgiving.

He could not have had worse timing as the gift came at a difficult time in his son’s life when he was struggling emotionally because his best friend had moved away. Nobody thinks Crumbley knew about the attack beforehand, even though his son had warned about it in journal entries.

After the verdict, his attorney, Mariell Lehman, reiterated some things. One was that James Crumbley “did not know that his son could or would harm anyone or that he had obtained the means to do so.” She also apologized to the parents of the dead kids on his behalf.

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Grieving parents of the four children killed spoke after the guilty verdict. They believe the country can do better. “We can put people on the moon, we can build skyscrapers, huge monuments like the Hoover Dam. And we can’t keep our kids safe in schools,” Steve St. Juliana, Hana’s father said.

“I think people just need to wake up and take action. Stop accepting the excuses,” the grieving father added.

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Some of the parents also blame the school. They believe it failed their children and are calling for a change in leadership. Ethan Crumbley killed four students: Justin Shilling, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Tate Myre, 16, and Hana St. Juliana, 14.

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As far as McDonald, the prosecutor, is concerned, the deaths were “preventable and foreseeable.” His parents just had to have made “tragically small efforts.” McDonald knows that the guilty verdict does not bring back the children who died that day, “but it does mark a moment of accountability.”

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She called gun violence a crisis in the United States. “And we will not be able to address it until we start treating it like a public health crisis,” McDonald added. “And yes, access to guns is a critical piece of that. But it’s not the only piece.”

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