The Michigan Court of Appeals has decided that the parents of the Oxford High School shooter will go on trial on four counts of involuntary manslaughter for the four murders their son Ethan Crumbley caused in a school shooting in November 2021. This case has the potential to set a precedent.
James and Jennifer Crumbley have stated that the accusations are without merit and that they shouldn’t be held accountable for their son’s murders. A panel of judges for the state’s appellate court noted the potential precedent-setting significance of this case – holding parents responsible for a child’s offenses – but described the circumstances as unique and uncommon in a written opinion submitted on Thursday.
The panel stated, “We share the defendants’ concern about the possibility that this decision will be applied in the future to parents whose circumstances regarding their child’s intentional conduct are not as closely tied together, and/or the warning signs and evidence were not as substantial as they are here.
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The court stated that because Crumbley’s conduct “was fairly predictable, and that is the ultimate test that must be applied,” such worries are “substantially mitigated.” The judges’ decision was supported by text messages in which Crumbley informed his parents that he had been having hallucinations and paranoia, including the idea that a demon was in the house.
Judge Michael Riordan observed in a concurring opinion that the case was extraordinary due to how obvious it was that Crumbley was considering violence and the fact that his parents had still given him a firearm. “Our legal system does not, and should not, legally punish individuals for poor, strange, or quirky parenting, or demand that children be denied access to any device that is otherwise lawful to possess and use.
Furthermore, I believe that parents do not always assume that their violent crime-committing children will commit violent crimes, noted Riordan. “But, we have a unique case in front of us. Despite the fact that EC was extremely distressed, the defendants gave him a firearm and did nothing when presented with the subtle, troubling evidence that EC had considered harming others.
The Michigan Supreme Court, which earlier decided that Jennifer and James Crumbley should be handed over for trial, will hear an appeal of the ruling. In his Michigan high school in November 2021, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley shot and wounded six other students, a teacher, and four other pupils, killing four of them.
In October, he admitted confessed to accusations of both terrorism and murder. On May 1, a circuit court judge will hold a hearing to decide whether Crumbley, a minor charged as an adult, should receive a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Days after the shooting, Crumbley’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, were also detained after a manhunt that ended at a Detroit warehouse. The couple was charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter on the grounds that they gave their son easy access to a pistol and disregarded warning flags.
The Crumbleys, according to the prosecution, “willfully ignored their son’s needs and well-being as well as the harm he posed to others.” They claimed in a court document from December 2021 that they were aware of their son’s depression and “fascination” with firearms.
On the day of the massacre, school officials arranged a meeting with James and Jennifer Crumbley after discovering alarming drawings their son produced with firearms and the phrases, “The thoughts won’t stop help me.” The parents were urged by the school to get their son into counseling within 48 hours. But, the parents decided against pulling their son out of class, so he went back to class.
Ethan Crumbley said in court that he took a revolver from an unlocked cabinet in his house, hid it in his backpack, and then removed the weapon out of his bag in the restroom before shooting his classmates. Prosecutors claim that James Crumbley bought the son’s rifle barely four days before the massacre. Lawyers for Crumbley’s parents previously stated that they would want their son to testify in their defense should their case go to trial.