Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley, enters the court to hear the verdict just before the jury found her guilty on four counts of involuntary manslaughter on at Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac, Michigan, U.S. on Tuesday. (Mandi Wright/USA Today Network via Reuters)
DETROIT--A Michigan jury on Tuesday convicted the mother of a teenager who fatally shot four classmates at a high school near Detroit of manslaughter after prosecutors argued she bore responsibility because she and her husband gave their son a gun and ignored warning signs of violence. Jennifer Crumbley, 45, was found guilty after a trial believed to be the first time that a parent faced a manslaughter charge in the United States stemming from a school shooting by a child. She faced four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each student killed at Oxford High School in the 2021 shootings, and was convicted on all four. She showed little reaction to the verdict in the courtroom. Jurors had begun deliberating on Monday morning. Manslaughter carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison. An April 9 sentencing date was scheduled. Her husband, James Crumbley, 47, is set to face his own trial on manslaughter charges starting March 5. The couple's son, Ethan, was 15 at the time of the shooting with a semi-automatic handgun. He pleaded guilty in 2022 to four counts of first-degree murder and other charges and was sentenced to life in prison without parole in December. The United States, a country with persistent gun violence, has experienced a series of school shootings over the years, often carried out by current or former students. Gun safety experts have said they hope this case spurs parents who own guns to better secure weapons, noting that government research shows three-fourths of school shooters in recent years obtained the firearms they used in their own homes. Oakland County prosecutors argued during the trial that Jennifer Crumbley, even though she did not pull the trigger, stored the gun and ammunition in a negligent manner and should be held criminally responsible for the deaths. They said she and her husband knew Ethan was mentally in a "downward spiral" and posed a danger to others but allowed him access to firearms, including the 9mm pistol that was purchased as his Christmas present and was used to kill his classmates. Shannon Smith, the attorney for Jennifer Crumbley, argued that she was not responsible for buying or storing the gun used by her son in the shootings, that she had no real warning signs that he would kill his classmates and that she could not have reasonably foreseen that the crime would take place. Jennifer Crumbley testified in her own defense, saying her husband was responsible for securely storing firearms in the family home and that while her son had been anxious about getting into college and what he would do with his life, she did not think his problems merited seeing a psychiatrist.