PONTIAC, Mich. (Court TV) — A jury has convicted the mother of a Michigan school shooter for her role in the 2021 Oxford High School shooting that left four students dead and seven people injured.
Jennifer Crumbley is facing up to 60 years in prison after being convicted of four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Sentencing is scheduled for April 9.
Her husband, James Crumbley, will stand trial on the same charges in March. The Crumbleys are believed to be the first parents of a school shooter to stand trial on allegations that they caused their 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.
In December, Jennifer’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.
Prosecutors accused the Crumbleys of giving their son access to a firearm and failing to exercise “reasonable care” to prevent him from intentionally harming others. The defense claimed the parents had no idea their son was planning a shooting and could not have seen foreseen his actions. They also disputed they made the firearm easy to find in their home.
Prosecutors pointed to evidence that the Crumbleys should have been aware of. Months before the shooting, their son reported hallucinations to them and asked for help. He told a friend that Jennifer laughed at him and James told him to “suck it up” when he asked to see a doctor.
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, then found his disturbing drawings and writings. The counselor recommended he be removed from school and they seek 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.
DAILY TRIAL UPDATES
DAY 9 – 2/6/24
- After nearly 11 hours of deliberations over two days, a jury found Jennifer Crumbley guilty of four charges of involuntary manslaughter.
DAY 8 – 2/5/24
- The jury panel of six men and six women deliberated for five hours and 45 minutes Monday without reaching a verdict.
- About two hours into their deliberations jurors had a question about the instructions they received about the two theories of Involuntary Manslaughter. Nearly two hours later, they posed a second question, asking if they could infer anything from witnesses that the prosecutors did not bring, namely witnesses that could testify about how the shooter acquired the gun.
- WATCH: School Shooter Mom Trial: Jury Asks Question Regarding Instructions
- WATCH: School Shooter Mom Trial: Jury Asks Another Question
- Judge Cheryl Matthews brought jurors in and reread instructions on what they could and could not consider as evidence.
- Defense Attorney Shannon Smith had complained different times during the trial that her defense was hamstrung by not being able to call the defendant’s son to the witness stand.
- Judge Matthews stated that the shooter’s defense attorneys advised that he would not be testifying at his either parent’s trial and she would not permit a witness who intends to invoke the fifth amendment to be called before the jury.
DAY 7 – 2/2/24
- Cross examination of Jennifer Crumbley:
- Prosecutor suggests her affair which included more than one partner took time and energy away from parenting – Jennifer denies
- WATCH: The Complete Cross-Examination of Jennifer Crumbley
- WATCH: Jurors Now Know Jennifer Crumbley Was a Swinger: Is That a Problem?
- WATCH: Jennifer Crumbley Completes Her Testimony on Redirect
- Theme of Prosecutor’s closing argument was that Jennifer could have prevented the massacre if she had taken small easy steps i.e. securing the gun, checking to see if the gun was home before going back to work.
- WATCH: School Shooter Mom Trial: Prosecution Closing Argument
- Prosecutor argued Jennifer knew something bad was about to happen and blew it off, then when the unthinkable happened she covered her tracks.
- Theme of defense close was reasonable doubt. The texts and messages the prosecution is relying on to prove their case have a different meaning from defense perspective and is just as plausible.
- WATCH: ‘It Was Unforeseeable’: Crumbley Delivers Closing Argument
- WATCH: School Shooter Mom Trial: Defense Closing Argument, Part 2
- Jennifer’s parenting is not the cause of the massacre. Education professionals with years of training and experience did not deem Ethan a threat and did not foresee the massacre.
- School officials were concerned about suicide not homicide
DAY 6 – 2/1/24
- Jennifer Crumbley takes the witness stand and says she wouldn’t do anything differently given the chance
- She says she wishes Ethan killed ‘us’ instead
- State rests after calling 30-year veteran of sheriff’s office who weeps recalling details of the homicide victim
- Excerpts from Ethan’s Journal found at the crime scene reveal his intent and plan to ‘shoot up the school’
DAY 5 – 1/31/24
- In the aftermath of her son’s murderous rampage, Jennifer Crumbley confided and sought support from her lover Brian Meloche – a firefighter who she met when they were in high school.
- Their extra-marital affair was sprung on jurors after prosecutors suggested defense attorney Shannon Smith opened the door to evidence of Jennifer’s infidelity during her cross of Meloche.
- WATCH: Courtroom Bombshell: Jennifer Crumbley’s Affair Revealed
- Smith had successfully argued to suppress the true nature of the relationship in pre-trial motions, and the judge agreed that Jennifer’s morality was not at issue. But when Smith suggested the married Meloche was being threatened with the loss of his job and benefits if he helped Jennifer, prosecutors protested and in a surprising twist Smith said she was changing strategies and now wanted the affair to be admitted.
- “At this point her life is more important than her dignity,” said Smith. “Lots of people have affairs. At the end of the day it doesn’t mean, you know your kids a school shooter. It doesn’t mean that you know, your child is going to kill people.”
- The move prompted prosecutors to insist that the judge question Jennifer Crumbley to secure her reassurance that she was on board with the new tactic, which could give the State more ammunition to argue that Jennifer was grossly negligent in her parenting.
- Meloche testified that Jennifer texted him on her way to meet school officials after the disturbing work sheet he produced.
- “She was concerned that he would do something dumb,” he testified. Knowing that they owned firearms and had recently bought one for her son, he asked where the firearm was. She responded with It was in her vehicle, “I told her it was not a good place for it.”
- There were a number of text exchanges between Jennifer and Meloche, including some in which Jennifer blasted school officials for being so nonchalant during her meeting with them on the day of the shooting. In a text to Meloche, Crumbley wrote:
- “Then there’s the fact that the system failed they should have never blown it off and made it seem of no concern and gave him the option to go back to class.”
- In a text on December 2 she wrote, “No, I’ll never be ok, I lost my son, he’s a murderer, and I will forever have to live with the guilt of that. I’m not even sure life is worth living anymore.”
- The defense painstakingly went through 77-pages of text exchanges to suggest Jennifer was not as disengaged and self-absorbed as prosecutors made her out to be. Her messages to Meloche indicated that she was very distraught.
- Meloche agreed on cross that he felt pressured to disavow any ties to the Crumbleys.
- “It was such a horrific incident that nobody could possibly stand up for anything that has to do the loss of life that’s the only thing you could say” he said.
- WATCH: School Shooter Mom Trial: Day 5 Recap
DAY 4 – 1/30/24
- Oxford High’s Dean of Students testified that the Crumbleys did not take their son home and returned to work after they were told he needed counseling as soon as possible.
- Jennifer Crumbley texted her boss after she learned her son was the school shooter, telling him she needed her job and asking him not to judge her.
- Amanda Holland, the defendant’s co-worker, testified Jennifer told her that her son was hearing things around the house.
- Video from inside a police cruiser shows Jennifer Crumbley Police Cruiser video shows Jennifer Crumbley breaking down as she recounts seeing her son at the police substation.
DAY 3 – 1/29/24
- Jennifer Crumbley addressed the court, agreeing to have thousands of pages of Facebook messages between her and her husband admitted into evidence.
- Jennifer Crumbley’s attorney apologized to the Court for an offhand comment she made in court on Friday.
- The horse farmer who boarded the Crumbleys’ horses testified that Jennifer contacted her about selling her horse in the hours after the shooting.
- The school counselor testified about notices from the school shooter’s teachers expressing concern about his behavior.
- The counselor testified that he summoned the shooter’s parents to school hoping that they would take him home.
- The jury saw a video of police speaking to Jennifer and James Crumbley in the immediate aftermath of the shooting rampage.
- Jennifer and James ask for their son to be represented by an attorney, preventing investigators from questioning the 15-year-old.
- Both appear shocked to learn that their son was the shooter, describing him as “the perfect kid, he doesn’t get in trouble at school.”
- WATCH: He’s a Perfect Kid’: Jury Sees Crumbley Parents’ Interview After Shooting
- WATCH: School Shooter Mom Trial: Day 3 Recap
DAY 2 – 1/26/24
- Prosecutors called only one witness Friday, a computer crimes expert who was tasked with gathering and analyzing digital evidence from Oxford High School’s surveillance system and the Crumbleys phones and social media accounts.
- Edward Wagrowski mined the school’s surveillance videos to create a minute-by-minute video timeline that included the moment the shooter was dropped off at school to the time he ended his rampage. His timeline also included his parents visit to the school, prompted by a call from the school counselor that the shooter had created an alarming drawing of a pistol on a worksheet, on which he also wrote, “Help me, blood everywhere.” His parents met with school officials for 12 minutes, after which Jennifer Crumbley returned to work and James Crumbley resumed his Door Dasher deliveries. Less than two hours after his parents left, the shooter changed his clothes, and began his shooting spree, injuring at least one teacher and claiming the lives of four schoolmates ranging in age from 14 to 17 years old.
- Texts, photos and call logs in the months leading up to the shooting painted a disturbing picture of the shooter’s deteriorating mental health exacerbated when his one and only friend abruptly left the state about a month before the shooting. Prosecutors allege the Crumbleys were more preoccupied with the wellbeing of their horses than they were with their son. To make their point the state displayed a string of texts between Jennifer and her son.
- On cross defense attorney Shannon Smith suggested that the government could not prove that her client saw the disturbing messages that the shooter sent his friend and that there were other messages that that did reflect Jennifer Crumbley’s concern that her son–normally happy—was depressed.
- Smith butted heads with prosecutors and appeared frustrated that she could not keep up with the rapid pace that Prosecutor Marc Keast was moving the digital exhibits into evidence. Tension boiled over when Keast at the end of the day suggested the court admonish Smith for joking about ‘killing herself.’ Smith protested sharply, stating her remark was not intended to offend anyone. Tempers erupted into an argument over which side was being more insensitive to the victim’s families. The judge put an end to disagreement by telling everyone to go home, but not before Smith gave into tears that flowed down her face smearing her makeup.
- WATCH: Attorneys Argue the Status of Jennifer Crumbley’s Son as Witness
- WATCH: Jennifer Crumbley Cries in Front of the Jury: Why That is Problematic
- WATCH: ‘Everybody Needs to Go Home’: Emotions Run High in Crumbley Courtroom
- WATCH: School Shooter Mom Trial: Day 2 Recap
DAY 1 – 1/25/24
- Megan Imirowicz, previously convicted in her father’s death, was kicked out of the courtroom in the trial of Jennifer Crumbley. Imirowicz and Crumbley became friends while incarcerated together.
- RELATED: Megan Imirowciz released from jail: I was praying for a miracle
- Assistant District Attorney Michael Keast opened for the state telling jurors that Jennifer Crumbley may not have pulled the trigger, but she was responsible for the deaths of four students at Michigan’s Oxford High School. He stated that ‘simple easy’ steps that the defendant could have taken would have prevented this tragedy.
- Defense Attorney Shannon Smith agreed that they would see ‘horrific and disgusting,’ details about the case but criticized the government for mischaracterizing the evidence and promised that her client would take the stand in her defense and give the state’s evidence context. Smith said the shooter’s rampage was not predictable, as the state suggests, because her client was was not aware of the extent of his mental deterioration.
- First to take the stand was Molly Darnell an educator at Oxford High School who locked eyes with the gunman and watched as he raised his pistol to aim and fired through the steel door she barricaded behind. The bullet struck her in the upper arm. She used her cardigan to create a makeshift tourniquet to stem the bleeding while she waited for help to arrive. As news spread through the school and community, she tried to stay calm but feared the worst and texted her husband, “Active shooter, I love you.”
- Assistant Principal Kristy Gibson-Marshall triggered a wave of sobs and tears as she described following the sound of gunshots and encountering the first fatality, Tate Myres lying prone on the floor. Prosecutors played the surveillance video from inside the school during her testimony. The sight of the shooter skulking the hallway looking for victims prompted sobs from the defendant. Jurors appeared teary-eyed and a box of Kleenex was passed among them as Gibson-Marshall choked up telling jurors she did not want to leave Myres’ side, as he lay still betraying no signs of life.
- The audible sobs prompted an objection from District Attorney Karen McDonald, who complained that the admonition from the judge ‘not to wear hearts on their sleeves,’ to the gallery where the victims’ families were seated should apply to both sides of the courtroom. McDonald was indignant that Jennifer Crumbley could express emotion yet, her team was warned not to. Defense Attorney Shannon Smith loudly denied sobbing, telling the judge, ‘My makeup is still on.’ Judge acknowledged the emotional nature of the case and that the displays of emotion despite best efforts could be involuntary.
- ATF agent Brett Brandon introduced the shooter’s Instagram posts and video surveillance from a gun range that appeared to show his deftness with firearms, and his unsupervised access to the weapons at home.
- READ: Prosecutor: School shooter’s mother is at fault for 4 student deaths
- WATCH: Victims’ attorney reacts to first day of Jennifer Crumbley’s trial
- WATCH: School Shooter Mom Trial: Day 1 Recap