Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of a teenager who shot four of his classmates at a Michigan High School in 2021 has been found guilty of and convicted of manslaughter.
Prosecutors argued that Jennifer bore the responsibility because she and her husband issued a gun and ignored signs of violence from their son Ehan Crumbley.
The 45-year-old woman was found guilty in a historic verdict believed to be the first time a parent of a school shooter is convicted of homicide related to the violence in the US.
She faced four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for every student that was killed in the shooting by her son.
The maximum penalty under Michigan law for involuntary manslaughter is 15 years in prison.
Also, prosecutors claimed Jennifer Crumbley was grossly negligent for not informing the school about their guns.
It was revealed to the court that Ethan used one of the family’s guns in the tragic shooting that killed four students and injured six, including a teacher.
Furthermore, the school’s concern arose after discovering a disturbing drawing on Ethan’s math assignment, indicating possible mental illness.
However, during a brief meeting with school officials, the Crumbley’s failed to disclose the presence of a gun at home, and Ethan was allowed to remain in school.
Later that day, on November 30, 2021, the 15-year-old opened fire, using the gun and ammunition he had brought to school.
“He literally drew a picture of what he was going to do. It says, ‘Help me,” the prosecutor Karen McDonald told the court alleging that his mother knew that the gun in the boy’s drawing was identical to the new one at home.
“She knew it wasn’t stored properly,” McDonald added. “She knew that he was proficient with the gun. She knew he had access to ammunition.”
Jennifer Message to Son Before Shooting
Following investigations into the shooting, detectives discovered a text message from Jennifer urging her son not to do it.
The text which allegedly reads “don’t do it”, was sent approximately an hour after the shootings began.
However, her lawyer argued that the text message referred to the possibility of him harming himself.
Beyond the knowledge of the gun, the Crumbley’s face accusations of neglecting their son’s mental well-being. The prosecutors pointed to a journal found in Ethan’s backpack, where he wrote that his pleas for help were ignored.
They also presented evidence of Crumbley engaging in group sex parties at hotels with a firefighter chief, diverting attention from her son’s mental health.
Ethans Cry for Help
In one of his entries, the boy wrote, “I have zero help for my mental problems, and it’s causing me to shoot up the school.”
Ethan, now 17, pleaded guilty in 2022 to murder and terrorism, acknowledging his deliberate actions.
He is currently serving a life sentence.
Also, his parents have been in jail for over two years, unable to post a $500,000 bond while awaiting trial.
Subsequently after charges were filed, they fled their home with $6,000 and were arrested 13 hours later at an acquaintance’s art studio in Detroit.
Jennifer’s Defense After Manslaughter Conviction
In her defense during the trial, Jennifer Crumbley’s attorney, Shannon Smith, argued that a conviction would negatively impact unsuspecting parents whose children engage in criminal activities.
Smith portrayed Ethan Crumbley as a “skilled manipulator,” saying that the mass shooting he carried out was not foreseeable.
Additionally, Smith claimed that the prosecution rushed the charging decision for political gain and media attention.
Brian Meloche, the firefighter chief, testified during the trial, revealing that Crumbley expressed concern about her son potentially doing something harmful.
Initially, the judge ruled to keep Crumbley’s affair out of the case. However, this objection was dropped during the trial.
Crumbley’s attorney argued that having an affair didn’t make her responsible for her son’s actions.
“Lots of people have affairs. Doesn’t mean you know your kid’s a school shooter. Doesn’t mean you know your child is going to kill people.” stated Smith.