Michigan parents can face manslaughter charges for school shooter’s rampage

School Shooting Michigan
This combo from photos provided by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office shows, from left, James Crumbley and Jennifer Crumbley. AP

Michigan parents can face manslaughter charges for school shooter’s rampage

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An appeals court in Michigan determined Thursday that the parents of Michigan school shooter Ethan Crumbley can be charged with involuntary manslaughter in an unprecedented case of criminal responsibility for the acts of a child.

The court, which unanimously ruled that James and Jennifer Crumbley could face charges, claimed that the shooting was preventable. The shooting wouldn’t have happened, it said, if the parents did not buy Ethan Crumbley the gun or took him home on the day of the shooting after the school notified them of his extreme drawings.


Although the court has ruled that the couple could stand trial, the court said it was not its job to determine if the couple’s actions actually constituted manslaughter.

“Whether a jury actually finds that causation has been proven after a full trial, where the record will almost surely be more expansive — including evidence produced by defendants — is an issue separate from what we decide today,” the court said in its opinion.

The couple is also accused of failing to secure the gun properly and ignoring the mental health of Ethan Crumbley, who killed four students and wounded seven other people at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, in November 2021.

Ethan Crumbley has pleaded guilty to murder and terrorism charges. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the chance of parole despite being a minor. Ethan Crumbley was 15 at the time of the shooting.

Judge Michael Riordan agreed with the court’s ruling, arguing that although parents should not face charges for “subpar, odd, or eccentric” parenting, the case with James and Jennifer Crumbley is more serious.

“The morning of the shooting, EC drew a picture of a body that appeared to have two bullet holes in the torso, apparently with blood streaming out of them, which was near another drawing of a handgun that resembled the gun his parents … had very recently gifted to him,” Riordan said.

Riordan noted the drawings were “visual evidence” that he intended to shoot someone. Attorneys for the school said the school had been more concerned that Ethan Crumbley would shoot himself than shoot other students on the day of the event.


Lawyers for the Crumbleys did not comment on the ruling due to a gag order, though they previously argued that the day’s events were not foreseeable but did concede that the parents made bad choices.

“I will concede that these parents made tremendously bad decisions,” defense attorney Shannon Smith said earlier this month. “But criminal trials for criminal culpability are not based on whether parents make the right decisions.”

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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