Jennifer Crumbley was found guilty on four counts and faces 15 years in prison for each charge.
A Michigan jury convicted a school shooter’s mother of involuntary manslaughter on Tuesday in the killings of four students in 2021, making her the first parent in the US to be held responsible for a child carrying out a mass shooting.
Prosecutors say Jennifer Crumbley had a duty under state law to prevent her son, who was 15 at the time, from harming others. She was accused of failing to secure a gun and ammunition at home and failing to get help to support Ethan Crumbley’s mental health.
The four guilty verdicts – one for each student slain at Oxford High School – were returned after roughly 11 hours of deliberations.
Crumbley, 45, looked down and shook her head slightly as each juror was polled after the verdicts were read.
On her way out of the courtroom, prosecutor Karen McDonald hugged relatives of victims Justin Shilling and Madisyn Baldwin.
“Thank you,” a man whispered to her.
“The cries have been heard, and I feel this verdict is gonna echo throughout every household in the country,” Justin’s father, Craig Shilling, said outside the courtroom.
“I feel it’s necessary, and I’m happy with the verdict. It’s still a sad situation to be in. It’s gotta stop. It’s an accountability, and this is what we’ve been asking for for a long time now,” Shilling said.
A gag order by the judge prevented McDonald and defence attorney Shannon Smith from speaking to reporters.
On the morning of November 30 2021, school staff members raised concern about a math assignment Ethan had handed in that included violent drawing of a gun, a bullet and a wounded man, accompanied by desperate phrases. His parents were called to the school for a meeting, but they didn’t take the boy home.
A few hours later, he pulled a handgun from his backpack and shot 10 students and a teacher. Four of the pupils dies. No one had checked the backpack.
The gun was the Sig Sauer 9mm his father had purchased with him just four days earlier. His mother had taken her son to a shooting range that same weekend.
The teenage shooter, now 17, pleaded guilty to murder and terrorism and is serving a life sentence.
Prosecutors have not said if they will ask for consecutive sentences on the four convictions, which could mean a maximum of 60 years if Judge Cheryl Matthews agrees.
Crumbley’s husband James will face trial in March.