Michigan prosecutors told jurors that Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of a boy who carried out a 2021 high school shooting, failed to do several "tragically small and easy things" that could have prevented four deaths. Crumbley, 45, and her husband James, 47, who will be tried separately next month, are each charged with four counts of manslaughter. Their son, Ethan, who was 15 at the time of the shooting at Oxford High School near Detroit, pleaded guilty in 2022 to two dozen counts, including four of first-degree murder, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. The involuntary manslaughter trial of Jennifer Crumbley is believed to be the first to target a parent of a school shooter, Reuters reports.
Prosecutor Marc Keast told jurors that Jennifer Crumbley knew her son was in a "downward spiral" mentally, and that only she and her husband could have known of the danger that Ethan Crumbley posed to others, and that he had access to a gun. "The evidence will show you that she didn't pull the trigger, but she is responsible for those deaths," Keast said. "She didn't do any number of tragically small and easy things that would have prevented all this from happening." Shannon Smith, Jennifer Crumbley's attorney, said her client had no way of knowing that her son was going to kill four classmates. Smith said Jennifer "did not have it on her radar in any way that there was any mental disturbance, that her son would ever take a gun into a school, that her son would ever shoot people." Smith added that it was James Crumbley who was in charge of making sure that a trigger lock was on the gun Ethan used. Smith said Jennifer Crumbley would testify in her own defense. Gun safety experts hope the Crumbley trials serve as a wake-up call for parents to secure weapons in their homes. About 75% of school shooters obtained the guns they used in attacks in their own homes.