Sentencing: MI v. Jennifer and James Crumbley

Posted at 7:46 AM, April 9, 2024

PONTIAC, Mich. (Court TV/AP) — 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.

At their sentencing hearing on April 9, James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of school shooter Ethan Crumbley, sat at the same defense table, although their trials had been separated.

James and Jennifer Crumbley sit with their attorneys at their sentencing hearing on Tuesday, April 9, 2024. (Court TV)

The couple were each convicted earlier this year of four counts of involuntary manslaughter for their roles in the 2021 Oxford High School shooting that left four students dead and seven others injured. 

Michigan prosecutors had asked for 10 to 15 years in prison based on the severity of the crimes and the extent of the harm to the victims and the community.

The State said Jennifer Crumbley showed a “chilling lack of remorse” for her role and that James Crumbley “failed to exercise even the smallest measure of ordinary care” that could have prevented the tragedy, the sentencing memo stated.

The defense attorney for Jennifer Crumbley, who has already served 27 months in jail, asked for her to serve her time under house arrest at a residence owned by counsel Shannon Smith.

In response, prosecutors called the request a “slap in the face to the severity of tragedy caused by defendant’s gross negligence, the victims and their families.”

The families of victims Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Justin Schilling, 17, Tate Myre, 16, and Hana St Juliana, 14, were present at Tuesday’s sentencing hearing and gave impact statements.

Following their statements, both Jennifer and James Crumbley addressed the court, sharing remorse and begging to be released from jail to serve the remainder of their time on house arrest.

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

“These convictions are not about poor parenting. These convictions confirm repeated acts or lack of acts that could have halted an oncoming runaway train. About repeatedly ignoring things that make a reasonable person feel the hair on the back of their neck stand up. Opportunity knocked over and over again, louder and louder, and was ignored. No one answered. And these two people should have and sure didn’t,” Judge Matthews said as she delivered her sentence.