Parents of Michigan School Shooter Sentenced to 10-15 Years in Prison

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A Michigan judge sentenced the parents of a teenager who killed four classmates at his high school to 10 to 15 years in jail each, making them the first parents of a school shooter to be held directly accountable for their child’s crime.

James and Jennifer Crumbley were both found guilty of four counts of accidental homicide in separate trials that concluded in February and March.

Their son, Ethan Crumbley, pleaded guilty to four counts of murder in the 2021 killings at Oxford High School, roughly 40 miles north of Detroit, and is serving a life sentence.

Neither defendant reacted strongly to the ruling, and both impassively signed numerous pieces of paperwork before being led out of the courtroom.

“These convictions were not about poor parenting,” said Judge Cheryl Matthews. “These convictions convey repeated acts or lack of acts that could have halted an oncoming runaway train.”

Prosecutors sought 10 to 15 years each for the parents, which is higher than the state’s minimum sentencing recommendations of 43 to 86 months, citing the parents’ lack of remorse and James Crumbley’s threatening comments directed at the district attorney in jailhouse phone calls.

Parents of Michigan School Shooter Ethan Crumbley Sentenced to 10-15 Years in Prison

James Crumbley asked to be sentenced to time served. His counsel stated in a filing that his threats against the prosecutor were not physical, and that he was venting to loved ones about his circumstances.

Jennifer Crumbley also attempted to evade prison time by spending any additional sentence beyond that spent in her lawyer’s guesthouse while under electronic monitoring.

Both parents made remarks about the sentence. Jennifer Crumbley attempted to retract a widely criticized statement from her trial in which she stated that she would not do anything differently as a parent, but she maintained that she was unaware of her son’s problems.

James Crumbley expressed his heartfelt condolences to the victims’ families, but added that he had no idea what his son had planned.

During the trial, prosecutors depicted both parents as careless about their son’s deteriorating mental health, failing to take him home following a disturbing meeting with school officials on the day of the shooting and failing to safely store the gun used in the attack.

The parents claimed in their sentencing comments that they were unaware of their son’s mental health difficulties. James Crumbley insisted that he had taken proper precautions to safeguard the weapon.

Several parents read heartbreaking victim impact statements during the sentencing hearing, detailing how the tragedy had affected them and how the Crumbleys had failed the entire town.

“When you texted Ethan, ‘Don’t do it,’ I was texting Madisyn ‘I love you. Please call mom,’” said Nicole Beausoleil, mother of Madisyn Baldwin, who was 17 when she was killed by Ethan Crumbley. “While you were running away from your son and your responsibilities, I was doing the worst thing a parent could do. I was forced to say goodbye to my Madisyn.”

The Crumbley parents’ cases marked the first time prosecutors sought to hold the shooter’s parents directly responsible for a fatal school shooting.

Prosecutors recently charged numerous parents with crimes stemming from their children’s shootings, but did not explicitly blame them for the attacks.

In December, the mother of a 6-year-old boy who shot his teacher in Newport News, Virginia, was sentenced to two years in prison for child negligence in connection with the nonfatal gunshot.

The father of a man accused of killing seven people and injuring scores during a Fourth of July celebration in Highland Park, Illinois, pleaded guilty in November to seven misdemeanor counts of reckless conduct for assisting his son in obtaining a gun license. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail and two years of probation.

Both Crumbley cases rested on a meeting between the parents, Ethan Crumbley, and two school administrators on the morning of the shooting.

On a school arithmetic sheet, Ethan had drawn a picture of a 9mm handgun similar to the one he had received as a Christmas gift, a person bleeding, and the words “blood everywhere,” “the thoughts won’t stop,” and “help me.”

School administrators suggested that the parents seek immediate mental-health services for their son, but the parents chose to keep him in school after the deadline was extended to 48 hours. He opened fire in a hallway soon after the meeting.

Both parents are expected to appeal their convictions. The parents of one of the students who was shot have filed a federal lawsuit against the Oxford Community School District and Acme Shooting Goods, which sold the rifle used in the attack to James Crumbley. The school district did not respond to a request for comment. The gun shop made no comment.

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