The parents of Ethan Crumbley, the teenager who killed four students at Oxford High School in Michigan, have lost their appeal and will face trial on involuntary manslaughter charges. James and Jennifer Crumbley are accused of making a gun accessible to their son and neglecting his mental health needs. The Michigan Supreme Court upheld the state appeals court’s decision, allowing the case to proceed to trial.
Prosecutors in suburban Detroit argue that the parents bear some responsibility for the school shooting. They only needed to establish probable cause to put the Crumbleys on trial, a relatively low threshold at this stage. The case will now be presented to an Oakland County jury, who will hear a more comprehensive examination of the evidence from all sides.
The shooting took place in November 2021, resulting in the deaths of Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana, and Justin Shilling. Six students and a teacher were also injured. Ethan Crumbley, who pleaded guilty to terrorism and murder, will be sentenced on December 8 and could face life in prison without parole.
The defense attorneys for the Crumbley parents argue that the school shooting was not foreseeable. While they acknowledge that mistakes were made, they contend that these do not rise to the level of involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years. The parents had met with school staff on the day of the shooting after a teacher noticed violent drawings, but no one checked Ethan’s backpack for a gun, and he was allowed to remain in school.
The Crumbley parents have been in custody since shortly after the shooting, unable to post a $500,000 bond. They have had no contact with their son, who is also being held in the same jail. Defense lawyers declined to comment on the Michigan Supreme Court’s order, citing a gag order.