MI v. James Crumbley: School Shooter Dad Trial

PONTIAC, Mich. (Court TV) — A Michigan judge has sentenced the first parents in the U.S. to be held criminally responsible for a school shooting to 10-15 years in prison.

James Crumbley, the father of a Michigan school shooter was found guilty of his role in the 2021 Oxford High School shooting, one month after his wife, Jennifer Crumbley, was convicted of the same charges.

James Crumbley was charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter after his son killed four students and injured seven people on Nov. 30, 2021. Prosecutors proved that James, like Jennifer Crumbley, caused his son’s actions through gross negligence or by willfully disregarding the threat he posed to others by failing to act on signs that he may be dangerous.

Ultimately, at the sentencing Apr. 9 sentencing hearing, Hon. Judge Cheryl Matthews found it was appropriate to go above the advisory sentence based on the impact of their crimes as well as their “lack of insight.”

james crumbley appears in court

James Crumbley enters the Oakland County Courtroom of Cheryl Matthews, Wednesday, March, 13, 2024 in Pontiac, Mich.  (Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press via AP, Pool)

James bought the firearm used in the shooting three days before and gifted it to his son despite signing a form that said it was illegal to buy a firearm for someone else. The next day, Jennifer brought her son to a shooting range with the firearm.

On the day of the shooting, the Crumbleys were called to Oxford High School for a meeting with a counselor after staff caught their son watching a shooting video on his phone and then found his disturbing drawings and writings. The counselor recommended he be removed from school and they sought immediate medical attention, but the Crumbleys refused.

Two hours later, the shooter opened fire, killing Madisyn Baldwin, Justin Shilling, Tate Myre, and Hana St. Juliana.

In December, the couple’s 17-year-old son was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He previously pleaded guilty to 24 charges, including first-degree murder and terrorism.

In February, Jennifer was convicted of four counts of involuntary manslaughter. She is scheduled to be sentenced April 9.

Before the trial, a judge denied James’ request for a change of venue. The defendant argued he couldn’t get a fair trial in Oakland County due to widespread publicity around the case and his wife’s conviction.


DAY 6 – 3/14/24

DAY 5 – 3/13/24

DAY 4 – 3/12/24

  • Prosecutors presented their key evidence in the Crumbley case – the surveillance video from the November 2021 Oxford High School mass shooting. The video brought many to tears.
    • One juror wept while other jurors wiped tears from their eyes, and some had their hands over their mouths as they watched the moments when the defendant’s son gunned down four of his classmates.
    • James Crumbley held his head down, wiping his face with tissues as the horrific video played for the jury.
  • Jurors saw a video of the shooter’s parents after the incident at Oxford High School. They both were handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car parked in front of their house while the song “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire played in the background. James Crumbley pleads with law enforcement to take the handcuffs off his wife while she’s panicking that she’s claustrophobic. The video ends with James telling Jennifer, “Honey, I love you, in case something happens.” He leans in to kiss his wife and tells her, “not to say anything until they have lawyers.”
  • WATCH: Witness Describes Finding Wanted James and Jennifer Crumbley
  • The defendant’s son wrote in a journal, “I have zero HELP for my mental problems, and it’s causing me to shoot up the (profanity) school.” Another entry, “I want help, but my parents don’t listen to me, so I can’t get any help.”
  • Jurors saw photos of the shooter’s two bedrooms – both messy – one of the rooms contained two human silhouettes over his bed, empty shell casings strewn about the room, an empty whiskey bottle, and a notebook with drawings of guns and other graphic drawings.
  • Crumbley told investigators where he ‘hid’ the unloaded guns throughout their home.
  • Crumbley’s defense contends he never saw the journal entries.
  • The Crumbley’s arrest video revealed that James Crumbley told law enforcement that he and his wife intended to meet with their lawyer the following morning and turn themselves in.
  • WATCH: School Shooter Dad Trial: Day 4 Recap
  • WATCH: Who’s More Liable: Oxford High School Or The Crumbley Parents?


DAY 3 – 3/11/24

DAY 2 – 3/8/24

  • Forensic analyst Edward Wagrowski returned to the stand for cross-examination.
    • The defense challenged Wagrowski on not knowing, even though GPS placed the defendant in the home, if the defendant knew his son was messing with the gun and videoing it at home.
    • The defense challenged whether James telling his son to “suck it up” was about mental health issues and whether he saw and/or interacted with his son’s social media.
      • On redirect, the prosecutor read the full text that showed the context was Ethan telling his friend he was seeing things, hearing things, having insomnia and paranoia.
    • The defense noted that James started working for DoorDash immediately after the school meeting and that he called 911 after he knew there was an active shooter and noticed the gun at home was missing.
      • On redirect, the prosecutor noted that James had not worked for DoorDash that day until after the meeting.
  • Cammy Back, an employee at the gun store where James purchased the gun, testified to the transaction.
  • Det. Sgt. Joe Brian of the Oakland Co. Sheriff’s Office testified to an interview he did with James and Jennifer Crumbley on the day of the shooting, as the jurors watched the video.
    • James could be seen crying at the defense table while the video was played.
    • During cross-examination, the defense pointed out that James said everything seemed fine with his son and wanted to talk to the police while his wife, Jennifer, didn’t want to.
    • On redirect, the prosecutor noted that James repeated “I love you” several times with his voice raised as the shooter was confessing to his mother. The defense objected to this and the judge said the jury could form their own opinions about why James was saying “I love you” at that moment.
  • Oxford High School Assistant Principal Kristy Gibson-Marshall testified about what she saw and heard the day of the shooting.
    • She said she tried to help Tate Myre and walked with the shooter for about 10 steps before realizing that he was the gunman.
      • He had a gun, and when he didn’t respond to her she realized he was the shooter.
    • Prosecutors showed the jury surveillance video of her movements during the shooting.
      • James Crumbley could be seen crying while the video played.
  • WATCH: School Shooter Dad Trial: Breaking Down The Father/Son Relationship
  • WATCH: School Shooter Dad Trial: Day 2 Recap

DAY 1 – 3/7/24