Jury deliberation begins next week in Oxford High School shooting manslaughter trial

Jennifer Crumbley faces 4 counts for gifting son Ethan Crumbley gun he used in 2021

By Ehren Wynder
Jennifer Lynn Crumbley testified she and her husband bough their son the gun he used to carry out the shooting only to be used while they were together at the gun range, and not for him to have unfettered access to. Photo courtesy of Oakland County Sheriff's Office/UPI
Jennifer Lynn Crumbley testified she and her husband bough their son the gun he used to carry out the shooting only to be used while they were together at the gun range, and not for him to have unfettered access to. Photo courtesy of Oakland County Sheriff's Office/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Jurors will deliberate next week in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of the Oxford High School shooter who killed four classmates in 2021.

Crumbley returned to the stand Friday as prosecutors questioned her on timelines, phone calls and text messages. She faces four counts of involuntary manslaughter for gifting her son, Ethan Crumbley, the gun with which he committed the shooting on Nov. 30, 2021.


She faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Ethan Crumbley was sentenced last year to life in prison with no parole for murdering four fellow students and injuring seven others in 2021.

On Friday, Assistant Prosecutor Marc Keast questioned Crumbley about the timeline of Nov. 29, the night before the shooting. She testified she and her husband had gotten into a fight about their son's grades.


Keast said their son, meanwhile, was outside their home filming a video describing what he was going to do the next day, of which his mother said she was unaware.

Jennifer Crumbley testified nothing was stopping her from taking her son home on the day of the shooting.

Her husband, James Crumbley, also faces four counts of involuntary manslaughter related to the shooting. His trial is scheduled for March.

Police found the shooter's parents in their friend's art studio in Detroit on Dec. 4. Keast questioned Crumbley Friday about the nature of the phone calls she had made from jail to her parents after her arrest.

The prosecution said she expressed concern in her first call about her animals and cash police found in the studio, but didn't mention her son until 10 days and 14 calls later.

Crumbley said she "was under the impression that I couldn't mention him because I could get flagged at the jail."

Keast sought to cast doubt on Crumbley's testimony that she and her husband were asleep in the studio by 11 p.m. on Dec. 3, and their plan was to wake up before 7 a.m. the next morning to turn themselves in.


The prosecution read text messages between Crumbley and her ex-lover Brian Meloche at 11:16 p.m. on Dec. 3. One of her texts read, "We might have been found."

"That was written, but I don't believe it was written by me," Crumbley said. "We were both using that phone at the time because my husband's broke."

Keast questioned Crumbley about her assertion that she was a "hypervigilant" parent, asking her how much time she spent on hobbies, such as horses and ski patrolling, as well as her extramarital affair.

Crumbley said her son "was not into horses," which she gave as the reason why she did not take him with her to the barn.

Keast asked Crumbley about the characterization of a social media post she made about the handgun she and her husband purchased for Ethan just days before the shooting. Crumbley asserted they had bought him the gun only to use while they were together at the shooting range, not for him to have unfettered access to.

The prosecution questioned Crumbley's level of trust in her husband. Despite her previous testimony that she did not trust him to hold down a job or keep up with household chores, she said she did trust him with their son.


Regarding a disturbing drawing, depicting a gun and a bleeding body, which her son had made the morning of the shooting, Crumbley said she thought the body in the picture was wearing a cape.

When asked about his note that read "the thoughts won't stop, help me," she admitted, "Yes, that was concerning."

Later in the testimony, Keast asked Crumbley why she didn't tell the school about the gun she and her husband had bought their son.

"I didn't think it was relevant," she said.

Prosecutors must prove the parents had "reasonable foreseeability" that their son would carry out the shooting to convict them with involuntary manslaughter.

In her closing arguments, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald told jurors their "job is to consider the facts and the evidence in this case."

McDonald argued Ethan Crumbley "literally drew a picture" of what he was going to do and said "help me."

"I have to prove that she had a legal duty, she negligently performed that legal duty, she negligently did not take steps to take care and protect the other children in that school when there was a reasonable foreseeability that ordinary care was required," she said.

Crumbley's attorney Shannon Smith argued "no one could have expected this," including her client.


"When you look back in hindsight, it is easy to say, this could have been different, that could have been different, this could have changed," Smith said, while accusing prosecutors of cherry-picking evidence.

In a Thursday testimony, Crumbley said she never saw any warning signs in her son's behavior. He had normal hobbies for a teenage boy, and the biggest issue they fought about was his grades.

Crumbley's trial marks the first time that the parent of a mass shooter has been charged in connection with the shooting.

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