Ethan Crumbley’s parents will stand trial for involuntary manslaughter

Mar 23, 2023, 10:59 AM

PONTIAC, MI - MARCH 22: Jennifer Crumbley and her husband James Crumbley, parents of the alleged te...

PONTIAC, MI - MARCH 22: Jennifer Crumbley and her husband James Crumbley, parents of the alleged teen Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley who is charged with killing four people and wounding seven others, appear in 6th Circuit Court for their pretrial hearing on March 22, 2022 in Pontiac, Michigan. Both parents are being charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. It is the first time in the U.S. that the parents of an alleged mass school shooter have been charged in connection with their child's alleged school shooting. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

(CNN) — The parents of the Oxford High School shooter will stand trial on four counts of involuntary manslaughter for the four deaths their son Ethan Crumbley caused in the November 2021 shooting, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled.

The parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, have argued the charges have no legal justification and they should not be held responsible for their son’s killings.

A panel of judges for the state’s appellate court acknowledged in a written opinion filed Thursday the possible precedent-setting nature of this case — holding parents accountable for a child’s actions — but called the situation unique and unusual.

Ethan Crumbley, 15 years old at the time, shot and killed four students and injured six students and a teacher at his Michigan high school in December 2021. He pleaded guilty in October to terrorism and murder charges and faces up to life in prison without parole.

But in an unusual turn of events for a school shooting case, Crumbley’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, were also arrested days after the shooting following a manhunt that led authorities to a Detroit warehouse. Accused of providing their son easy access to a firearm and disregarding warning signs, the pair were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Prosecutors have argued the Crumbleys “willfully ignored the needs and well-being of their son and the threat he posed to others.” In a December 2021 court filing, they said that the parents knew their son was depressed and “fascinated” with guns.

On the day of the shooting, school officials held a meeting with James and Jennifer Crumbley after discovering disturbing drawings their son made featuring guns and the words, “The thoughts won’t stop help me.” The school advised the parents to provide counseling to their son within 48 hours. But the parents declined to take their son out of school and he returned to the classroom.

According to Ethan Crumbley’s testimony, he retrieved a gun from an unlocked container in his home, hid it in his backpack, and pulled it out of his bag in a bathroom before opening fire on his classmates.

James Crumbley purchased the gun used by his son just four days before the massacre, according to prosecutors.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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Ethan Crumbley’s parents will stand trial for involuntary manslaughter