Mother of School Shooter Convicted by a Michigan Jury of Involuntary Manslaughter

In what has been described as a “rare” case that employed a “novel and unusual legal strategy,” Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of a teenager who killed 4 high school students in a shooting at a Oxford, Michigan high school in 2021, has been convicted of 4 counts of involuntary manslaughter. Crumbley’s husband, James, is scheduled for trial on the same charges later this month. Ethan Crumbley previously pled guilty to 4 counts of murder and 20 other related charges and was sentenced to life in prison without the benefit of parole.

Many say that the case is testing the limits of who can be held responsible for a school shooting. It is the first time in United States history that a jury has convicted a parent of manslaughter as a result of their child’s shooting.

Prosecutors argued that Jennifer Crumbley was responsible for the deaths because she was “grossly negligent” in giving Ethan (then 15 years old) a gun while failing to get him mental health treatment despite various warning signs. Prosecutors also highlighted for the jury Jennifer Crumbley’s inaction in a meeting with school employees the day of the shooting. That morning, a teacher apparently found a drawing from Ethan with a gun and a person bleeding. On the drawing Ethan wrote “the thoughts won’t stop help me,” “blood everywhere,” and “my life is useless.” The Crumbleys were called into the school for a meeting, and a school counselor testified he recommended the parents take their son home from school to get immediate mental health treatment. The Crumbleys declined to do so that day because they didn’t want to miss work. They also did not mention to school employees that they had just purchased Ethan a new gun or that he had previously sent them text messages that suggested he was hallucinating. Shortly after the meeting, Ethan took a firearm out of his backpack and opened fire on his classmates, killing 4.

Crumbley took the stand and testified on her own behalf – in a shocking moment, she stated, “I’ve asked myself if I would have done anything differently, and I wouldn’t have.” Her testimony was indicative of a complete lack of remorse for her actions and was likely a factor in the jury’s verdict.

Crumbley faces a maximum of 15 years in prison when she appears before the Court for sentencing in April.

Manslaughter in NJ

In NJ, Manslaughter is codified under N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4, which provides:

Criminal homicide constitutes aggravated manslaughter when:

  1. The actor recklessly causes death under certain circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life; or
  2. The actor causes the death of another person while fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer.

Criminal homicide constitutes manslaughter when:

  1. It is committed recklessly; or
  2. A homicide which would otherwise be murder is committed in the heat of passion resulting from a reasonable provocation.

A person convicted of the crime of Aggravated Manslaughter under paragraph 1 is subject to a period of incarceration between 10 to 30 years, with 85% to be served under the No Early Release Act (“NERA”). A person convicted of the crime of Aggravated Manslaughter under paragraph 2 is subject to a period of incarceration between 10 and 20 years, with 85% to be served under NERA.

Manslaughter is a crime of the second degree, punishable by a period of incarceration between 5 to 10 years, with 85% to be served under NERA.

Contact a Totowa NJ Manslaughter Lawyer for a Free Consultation

If you find yourself in a situation where you have been charged with a violent crime, including Manslaughter, it is important to contact a lawyer immediately. The consequences of a conviction are permanent and severe. Alissa D. Hascup is a talented, experienced criminal defense lawyer who is ready to fight for you. Contact her now for a free consultation about your case.

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