Jury in manslaughter case against school shooter's mom retires for day

By Chris Benson & Don Jacobson
A memorial was laid outside Oxford High School in Michigan days after four students were slain in a mass shooting in 2021. File Photo by Nic Antaya/UPI
1 of 4 | A memorial was laid outside Oxford High School in Michigan days after four students were slain in a mass shooting in 2021. File Photo by Nic Antaya/UPI

Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Jurors in Michigan adjourned for the day on Monday without reaching a verdict in the manslaughter trial of Jennifer Crumbley, the first parent to be charged with a mass shooting carried out by her child.

The six-man, six-woman jury went home after concluding its first full day of deliberations in Pontiac, Mich., and is set to return on Tuesday to once again attempt to reach a verdict in the landmark case.


Crumbley testified during the trial that she saw no warning signs that her then-15-year-old son, Ethan Crumbley, would take a gun to Oxford High School and kill four classmates on Nov. 30, 2021.

She said the gun used in the shooting had been secured in the bedroom she shared with her husband, James Crumbley, whose trial is set to begin in March on the same involuntary manslaughter charges, which carry a sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted.

Ethan Crumbley pleaded guilty in 2022 and was sentenced in December to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The 43-year-old mother testified that she never saw the evidence laid out by the prosecution that her son sought mental help and that she never would have ignored him if he had.


The prosecution put 21 witnesses on the stand in an attempt to portray Jennifer Crumbley as a neglectful parent. To convict, the jury must find that she was negligent in storing the gun Ethan used in the rampage that killed Tate Myre, 16; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Justin Shilling, 17.

"The fact that [the Crumbley parents] are both charged is not evidence that either one is guilty," Judge Cheryl Matthews told jurors on Monday.

They will also need to determine if Ethan Crumbley's actions were "reasonably foreseeable" in order to find his mother guilty in connection with the shooting.

Matthews told the 17 jurors -- who will be narrowed down to 12 -- that in order to convict, they must find Jennifer Crumbley guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt that the deaths were a natural or reasonable result of the defendant's acts."

"It's not enough that the defendant's acts made it possible for the crime to occur," the judge said.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald reminded the jury that Ethan Crumbley "literally drew a picture" his intentions and their job "is to consider the facts and the evidence in this case."

Jennifer Crumbley was negligent and "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," McDonald said.


Defense attorney Shannon Smith tried to convince jurors that Jennifer Crumbley could not predict what her son was going to do, but that her parenting style was "hypervigilant." She accused prosecutors of cherry-picking evidence to support their argument for the mother's guilt.

"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.

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