Jennifer Crumbley, Mom of Michigan School Shooter, Found Guilty

The mother of the 15-year-old who killed four students at a Michigan high school in 2021 was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in a landmark ruling on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

A jury unanimously convicted Jennifer Crumbley of all four counts against her, one for each of the four people her son, Ethan, killed at Oxford High School. Crumbley could face up to 60 years in prison, with each count carrying a maximum sentence of 15 years. She remains held on bond and will be sentenced on April 9. 

A lawyer for Crumbley did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment. 

Crumbley’s case and conviction were unprecedented, marking the first time a parent has stood trial for their alleged role in a school shooting (Crumbley’s husband, James, will go to trial on the same charges in March). The Crumbleys were accused of purchasing the handgun Ethan used during the shooting, ignoring his mental health needs, and failing to tell the school they’d purchased a gun for their son during a meeting about his behavior hours before the shooting. 

(Ethan previously pleaded guilty to all of the charges against him, including murder and terrorism. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole last December.)

During the trial, as NBC News notes, prosecutors tried to paint Crumbley as a neglectful parent, arguing she was more interested in her hobbies and an extramarital affair than her son. They also argued that after purchasing Ethan a semi-automatic handgun days before the shooting, the Crumbleys did not bother to store it properly. 

The prosecution’s case featured an array of evidence, including text messages and photos from Crumbley’s phone, video of the shooting, and over 20 witnesses. Meanwhile, Crumbley herself was the only witness called for the defense. During her testimony, she acknowledged that her son was “depressed” but said she didn’t believe her son needed to see a mental health professional.

“I don’t think I’m a failure as a parent,” Crumbley said during her testimony, adding she “wouldn’t have” done anything different as a parent, either. However, she did seem to express remorse and despair while on the stand, saying, “I wish he would have killed us, instead,” and, “I don’t want to say that I’m a victim, because I do not want to disrespect the families that truly are the victims in this, but we did lose a lot.”


Crumbley’s lawyer, Shannon Smith, also tried to foist more of the blame on others. She argued James was in charge of storing the gun and that Ethan’s school was plenty aware of his struggles but didn’t provide Crumbley with proper information. Smith also raised precedent-setting specter a conviction would have, urging the jury to clear her “not just for Jennifer Crumbley, but for every mother who’s out there doing the best they can, who could easily be in her shoes.”

Meanwhile, some gun control advocates have heralded the ruling. In a statement, Nick Suplina, Senior Vice President for Law and Policy at the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety, said, “Today’s verdict underscores the important responsibility of parents and gun owners in preventing children from having unsupervised access to deadly weapons. Plain and simple, the deadly shooting at Oxford High School in 2021 should have — and could have — been prevented had the Crumbleys not acquired a gun for their 15-year-old son. This decision is an important step forward in ensuring accountability and, hopefully, preventing future tragedies.”

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