James Crumbley Wore Headphones Throughout His Trial for a Good Reason

James Crumbley took off his headphones and glasses to read a statement that completely disrespected the families of the victims.

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Apr. 9 2024, Published 3:15 p.m. ET

James Crumbley touches his headphones during his trial
Source: Getty Images

The trials of James and Jennifer Crumbley were unprecedented and will undoubtedly change how we view parental responsibility when it comes to student-involved school shootings. They are the parents of Ethan Crumbley who in November 2021, shot 11 people at Oxford High School in Oxford Township, Mich., killing four of them.

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He was a student there who that same day, was sent to the principal's office after a teacher discovered violent drawings on his math worksheet. Both of his parents were called into the school and were told he should go home, but they let him stay. Jennifer and James were each found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 10–15 years in prison. Throughout James's trial, he was seen wearing headphones which was unusual. Here's what we know about this unorthodox decision.

James Crumbley wearing headphones at his sentencing
Source: Getty Images
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James Crumbley wore headphones during his trial.

The Detroit Free Press reported that James wore headphones during his trial due to issues with hearing loss. This wasn't the only update to his appearance as James upgraded to a suit for the actual trial. He wore an orange jumpsuit during his pretrial appearances because he had been in jail since December 2021. Wearing street clothes is a privilege afforded to someone on trial because jail clothing can influence the jury's decision. Jail clothing can make people look guilty.

The Michigan Courts's website has a list of what one can't wear to court. Much of it feels obvious yet there must be a reason why such a list exists. This goes for anyone in court, not just the defendant, and includes things like no revealing garments, flip flops, or sandals. The list also includes "items depicting violence, sexual acts, profanity, illegal drugs, or alcohol use." In an odd turn, they remind everyone that wearing a swimsuit is also frowned upon.

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James Crumbley removed his headphones while giving a statement after being sentenced.

On a more serious note, James didn't need his headphones while addressing the families of the victims. After being sentenced, he stood up and apologized for the "pain and agony" he caused. Holding back tears, James said his "heart was broken for everybody involved." The video of James reading his statement also includes the parents sitting behind him. Some are looking down while others look straight ahead. It's safe to assume his words provided little comfort to them.

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Acknowledging that fact, James said that he wouldn't be surprised if the parents didn't believe him. Naming the four victims, James admitted to "crying for their children more times than he could count." Of course, how could that possibly compare to what they are feeling, knowing they will never hold their loved ones again.

Unfortunately, James also seemed unable to accept responsibility for his part in the shooting. He apologized for what his son did and said that he wished had known what was going on. A court of law decided that James and his wife Jennifer were both negligent. To say otherwise in a statement to the families of the victims is shocking. This further proves that the jury was right to hand down a guilty sentence.

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