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Parents of teenager who shot dead four classmates in the US jailed for manslaughter

todayApril 9, 2024 2

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Parents of teenager who shot dead four classmates in the US jailed for manslaughter

The parents of a US teenager who shot four classmates dead have been jailed for at least 10 years for manslaughter.

Ethan Crumbley is serving life in prison for murder after killing four students at Oxford High School, near Detroit in Michigan, in November 2021, when he was 15.

His parents had given him the weapon he used as a Christmas present.

The Crumbleys are the first parents to be convicted of manslaughter in a child’s school shooting.

Ethan’s mother Jennifer Crumbley, 46, was found guilty of four counts of manslaughter – one for each victim – in February this year. She was jailed for 10 to 15 years.

His father, James Crumbley, 47, was also convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The judge also sentenced him to 10 to 15 years in prison.

In remarks to the court before they were sentenced, Jennifer Crumbley expressed her “deepest sorrow” and claimed she had no inkling her son was capable of killing.

“My husband and I used to say we have the perfect kid. I truly believed that,” she said. “I didn’t have a reason to do anything different. This is not something I foresaw.”

Addressing the court, her husband said: “I am sorry for your loss as a result of what my son did. My heart pours out to every single one of you.”

James Crumbley has been convicted as well as his wife. Pic: Detroit Free Press via AP

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James Crumbley. Pic: Detroit Free Press via AP

Defendant Jennifer Crumbley appears during her jury trial at the Oakland County Courthouse, Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich. Crumbley, 45, is on trial for involuntary manslaughter, the first time parents have been charged in a U.S. mass school shooting. She and her husband are accused of contributing to the deaths at Oxford High School by neglecting their son's needs and making a gun accessible at home. (Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News via AP, Pool)

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Defendant Jennifer Crumbley. Pic: Detroit Free Press via AP

Prosecutors previously argued both parents bore responsibility because they gave their son the gun and ignored signs of violence.

James Crumbley purchased the 9mm semi-automatic handgun as a Christmas present for Ethan just four days before the 30 November 2021 shooting.

Both of the parents were summoned to their son’s school after teachers discovered violent messages like “blood everywhere” and “the thoughts won’t stop – help me” plus drawings on his schoolwork, prosecutors said during the trials.

The Crumbleys were told Ethan needed immediate counselling.

But prosecutors said the couple resisted, taking the boy home that day, and didn’t search his backpack or ask him about the gun they knew he could access.

Both of the Crumbleys had challenged that account in their trials, saying teachers in the meeting mutually agreed Ethan could remain in school that day and at no point did they think he posed a danger.

Ethan was returned to class and later walked out of a bathroom with the gun and began firing, according to prosecutors.

He killed 14-year-old Hana St Juliana, 16-year-old Tate Myre, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin, and 17-year-old Justin Shilling and injured seven other people.

(L-R) Hana St Juliana, 14, Tate Myre, 16, and Madisyn Baldwin, 17, were killed by Crumbley

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(L-R) Hana St Juliana, 14, Tate Myre, 16, and Madisyn Baldwin, 17, were killed by Crumbley

Justin Shilling, 17, was also killed in the attack

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Justin Shilling, 17, was also killed in the shooting

What did the victims’ families say?

Madisyn Baldwin’s mother, Nicole Beausoleil, was the first to give a victim impact statement.

She accused the Crumbleys of “failing as parents” for not listening to their son, which “took the right away for me to be a mother”.

“You show no remorse, no respect or compassion for our family. The same traits you bestowed upon your son… which tore my family to pieces.”

In an emotional statement, Ms Beausoleil said their lack of compassion was “disgusting” adding, as well as Ethan, the pair “both killed” her daughter.

The families of the other victims echoed Ms Baldwin’s sentiments.

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What do the Crumbley’s lawyers say?

Both defendants have been behind bars for over two years since their arrest in Detroit days after the shooting and both were unable to post the $500,000 (£394,000) bond before trial.

Mariell Lehman, James Crumbley’s lawyer, said the nearly two and a half years spent in jail was enough time in custody.

James Crumbley “did not believe that there was reason to be concerned that his son was a threat to anyone,” Ms Lehman said.

Jennifer Crumbley’s lawyer, Shannon Smith, previously said the defendant was “not a threat to the community.”

In a court filing, Ms Smith said putting her in prison “does nothing to further deter others from committing like offences” and said “any gross negligence” were mistakes “that any parent could make.”

The lawyer added she was even willing to house Jennifer Crumbley at her property, fitted with an electronic tether.

The Crumbleys will be eligible for parole after serving 10 years in custody and will get credit for having served nearly two and a half years in jail. If parole is denied, they cannot be held longer than 15 years.

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