Crumbley parents each sentenced to 10-15 years in prison over son's school shooting

By Mike Heuer & Chris Benson
Jennifer and James Crumbley, the parents of Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley will be sentenced for their alleged roles in the shooting, becoming the first parents to be held criminally liable for a shooting carried out by their child. File photo by Nic Antaya/EPA-EFE/UPI
1 of 4 | Jennifer and James Crumbley, the parents of Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley will be sentenced for their alleged roles in the shooting, becoming the first parents to be held criminally liable for a shooting carried out by their child. File photo by Nic Antaya/EPA-EFE/UPI

April 9 (UPI) -- Jennifer and James Crumbley, the parents of Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley, each will spend the next 10 to 15 years in prison in Tuesday's first-of-its-kind penalty.

They each received the maximum sentences sought by prosecutors after they were found guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter in separate trials in February and March for the killing of Tate Myre, 16; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Justin Shilling, 17, in the school shooting carried out by their son, Ethan Crumbley, who was 15 at the time the shooting happened on Nov. 30, 2021.


Before Judge Cheryl Matthews handed down her ruling, she noted how there were chilling warning signs about Ethan Crumbley, adding that "parents are not expected to be psychic."

"But these convictions are not about poor parenting. These convictions confirm repeated acts, or lack of acts, that could've halted an oncoming runaway train," Matthews told the courtroom.


The Crumbleys -- who reports say showed little emotion the day of sentencing -- are the nation's first parents to be convicted and sentenced on charges arising from a shooting carried out by their child. They will each receive credit for 858 days already served.

"Opportunity knocked over and over again and was ignored," the judge said Tuesday. "No one answered."

During sentencing, reports indicate Jennifer Crumbley would often look contemptuously at her estranged husband, James, who has been jailed and tried separately from his wife.

"I know this is an emotional day for everyone," Matthews said before sentencing got underway.

Ethan Crumbley -- who used a semi-automatic pistol to open fire on his classmates -- in 2022 pleaded guilty to the four murders, terrorism and related charges and in December was sentenced to life in prison without parole. His parents had bought the firearm for him for target shooting.

Addressing the victims parents in the Oakland County court, Jennifer Crumbley expressed her "deepest sorrows to the victims' families," saying how there has been much "gravity and weight" that has "taken on my heart and soul" and "nothing I can say will ease" the four victims' families pain.

"I have taken countless nights to lament," she said, adding how "I pray all the victims are in God's mercy and peace."


She told people how her situation "could be any parent," adding how "your child can make any decision."

Jennifer Crumbley was also critical of school officials who she claimed did not do enough to prevent the eventual outcome.

"To the victims and the families, I stand today not to ask for your forgiveness, but to express my sincere apologies for the pain that has been caused," she said. "I will be in my own internal prison for the rest of my life."

Earlier, Matthews had said that "Each act or inaction created a ripple effect, therefore an outer guideline sentence is appropriate and proportional."

James Crumbley after apologizing to the victims had asked Matthews for a "just and fair" sentence against him.

"I can't express how much I wish that I had known what was going on with him (the shooter) or what was going to happen," the father of Ethan Crumbley said. "I absolutely would have done a lot of things differently."

Both parents were also barred from contacting the families of the four students killed in the shooting carried out by their son. Two of the four victims' parents agreed the Crumbley parents' sentence was "appropriate."

Madisyn Baldwin's mother, Nicole Beausoleil, was the first to deliver a statement to the court on Tuesday. through tears as reports said her voice shook at times while she was critical of the Crumbley's as parents.


"The lack of compassion you have shown is disgusting," she said referencing James Crumbley's shaking his head during the verdict, was the worst disrespect "I have ever witnessed."

Addressing Jennifer Crumbley's "lack of remorse," Beausoleil said "While your son was hearing voices and asking for help, I was helping Madisyn pick out classes," adding how "When you were called to the school over his troubling drawing, I was planning an oil change for my daughter.

"When you texted 'Ethan don't do it,' I was texting Madysin 'I love you. Please call Mom," she said as other parents also read victim impact statements after her.

"The punishment that you face will never be enough," added Beausoleil.

Jennifer Crumbley had asked Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Matthews to let her serve out her sentence at the guest home of her defense attorney, Shannon Smith, instead of prison which was denied.

Oakland County prosecutors opposed the request, saying she showed a "chilling lack of remorse," during her trial and wanted her sentenced to prison.

"Such a proposed sentence is a slap in the face to the severity of tragedy caused by (Jennifer Crumbley's) gross negligence, the victims and their families," Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor Marc Keast wrote in a sentencing memorandum Wednesday.


Jennifer Crumbley, now 46, was negligent and "did not take steps to take care and protect the other children" despite a "reasonable foreseeability" she needed to act to prevent Ethan shooting his classmates, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said during her trial.

McDonald produced 300 pieces of evidence, including a journal in which Ethan Crumbley planned the school shooting and text messages to a friend discussing his poor mental health.

He also wrote "help me" on a piece of paper on which he also drew a firearm while in school, which prompted school officials to contact the Crumbleys to discuss Ethan's behavior the morning of the school shooting.

His parents didn't remove Ethan from school that day, and school officials didn't ask them to take him home.

James Crumbley, now 47, also asked for leniency by requesting his sentence be limited to time served. He spent about seven months in jail while awaiting trial and in early March lost his communications privileges after making threatening statements in emails and over the jailhouse phone about McDonald.

Keast said the request shows a "shameless lack of remorse" and is another "slap in the face" of the judicial system, the victims and their families.


The prosecutor's sentencing memorandum details how James Crumbley several times used misogynist expletives over the jailhouse phone to refer to McDonald and said he would "take her down."

He also said he hoped the call would be recorded and sent to McDonald so she would hear his phone rants against her.

Keast said James Crumbley views himself as a "martyr" and blames everyone but himself for the school shooting and his subsequent prosecution.

Local police arrested James and Jennifer Crumbley after they fled their home but were found in the basement of an art studio on Detroit's east side on Dec. 4, 2021.

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