In January 2024, the trial of Jennifer Crumbley began nearly three years after she was charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. This particular case was rare in that it was the first time a parent could be held responsible for a school shooting perpetrated by their child. In November 2021, her son Ethan walked into Oxford High School with a gun in his backpack that was gifted to him by his parents. He would go on to shoot 12 people, killing four of them. Those four were fellow students.
During the trial, it was revealed that Jennifer and her husband James Crumbley were made aware of disturbing drawings done by their son the day of the shooting. The drawings depicted gun violence and threats against his classmates. The school suggested Crumbley be removed and seek counseling, but his parents left him at school. Jennifer is now paying the price while her husband's trial is scheduled for March 2024. Here's what we know about her sentencing.
Jennifer Crumbley's sentencing has been scheduled.
According to ABC News, a jury deliberated for 11 hours before handing down a guilty verdict for Jennifer. Her sentencing is scheduled for April 9, 2024. By that time her husband James's trial will probably be done as it's scheduled to begin on March 5. CNN reported that both Jennifer and James face up to 15 years in prison.
Jennifer showed very little emotion while the verdict was read, said CNN, and refused to look at the judge or jury. The courtroom was surprisingly calm despite the fact that two rows in the gallery were made up of family members of victims. "Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald went to hug two parents of victims before she left the courtroom," while remaining prosectors shook hands with some of the parents.
Jennifer Crumbley's verdict will undoubtedly set a precedent.
Nick Suplina, Senior Vice President for Law and Policy at Everytown for Gun Safety, told PEOPLE that Jennifer's verdict "underscores the important responsibility of parents and gun owners in preventing children from having unsupervised access to deadly weapons." He went on to say, "Plain and simple, the deadly shooting at Oxford High School in 2021 should have — and could have — been prevented had the Crumbley’s not acquired a gun for their 15-year-old son."
During deliberation, the jury asked two questions that hold significance in terms of similar cases in the future. The first question asked if there were different ways Jennifer could be convicted. Per the instructions, "the prosecutor asserts two different theories to support the charges of Involuntary Manslaughter." One theory was that Jennifer "committed involuntary manslaughter because she failed to perform a legal duty. The second, is because she was grossly negligent."
An hour later, the jury had one more question. Can they "infer anything from evidence or witnesses that the prosecution did not bring, specifically not bring in the shooter or other people who could answer how specifically Ethan Crumbley got the gun." They were told by Judge Matthews that they could only go on the evidence presented. Despite this, asking about how Ethan got the gun is an important detail.