Jennifer Crumbley’s attorney spoke in court about her own failure to shower in a rare defense of the school shooter’s mother during closing arguments Friday.
Mrs. Crumley is faces four counts of involuntary manslaughter after her son shot and killed four of his classmates in November 2021. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In her closing arguments, defense attorney Shannon Smith detailed a series of snapshots of her own personal life as a “messy” working mother of four in an effort to relate to her client and suggest that she could easily have ended up in “the house of Mrs. Crumbley.” shoes”.
“I say ‘I’m sorry’ a lot,” Ms. Smith said, referring to a TikTok video that apparently shows the lawyer apologizing throughout the trial.
The lawyer told the court that she makes a lot of mistakes because “I’m human, and so is Ms. Crumbley.”
The defendant “is not a perfect person or a perfect father,” she said, and neither is she.
Ms. Smith said that as a working mother, she sometimes doesn’t have time to take a “real shower” but instead has to “just grab a handful of wipes and scrub them as best as I can.”
“I realized I’m Jennifer Crumbley,” Smith said, noting the similarities between the two women.
“Calling her son baby oopsie was designed to try to make her look bad without context,” Ms. Smith argued, adding that she calls her son “baby oopsie” all the time.
Smith said she called her son “psycho” or “crazy,” just as Crumbley called her son “freak” in text messages she sent to her friend.
The attorney said she does not own a gun, but has a “butcher block” of large knives.
“My kids could easily grab a knife without me knowing… and walk out my front door and go play with the other kids… and my kid could kill someone,” she said. “And I never would have expected it to happen.”
He added other hypotheses as to why he believes this case is too extreme. “Will I be responsible if my son sends a photo of his penis to a girl?” Mrs. Smith asked.
“Can parents really be responsible for everything their children do? Especially when it’s not predictable? added the lawyer.
“It was unpredictable. Nobody expected this. “No one could have expected this, including Ms. Crumbley,” the attorney said, as she repeatedly attempted to increase the distance between her client and her son Ethan Crumbley.
The prosecution “cherry-picked” evidence from “mountains of evidence,” Smith said, pointing to colorful stacks of papers and folders on the defense table. The prosecution, by contrast, maintained that it had provided the whole story in its closing arguments earlier.
The prosecutor said there were many “tragically small” things the defendant could have done to have prevented the massacre. One of those things, the prosecutor argued, was that the mother could have simply told her son at the meeting with school staff hours before the shooting: “I care about you, I love you.”
Ms Smith described this suggestion as “ridiculous” and said: “Will giving him a hug that day at the office stop a mass shooting?”
Nothing could have stopped him that day and Ethan had pleaded guilty to his crimes, he argued.
Ms. Smith also described Ethan as a “skilled manipulator,” although he never showed his parents any signs of mental illness. “No parent would buy a gun if they believed their child was mentally ill,” she said, adding that the Crumbleys had two other firearms in the home and nothing had ever happened before the mass shooting.
The lawyer also argued that there was a “lack of evidence” to show that Mrs Crumbley found her son strange or acted depressed. “There are no texts [between the Crumbley parents] that his son was showing something resembling a mental health problem,” he said.
Smith also characterized a voicemail left by a school counselor for Crumbley as “very nonchalant.” He added that the voicemail did not require a call back.
The attorney also attempted to blame the school for the shooting.
She mentioned the school meeting between parents and school staff the morning of the shooting, after Ethan was found with disturbing drawings.
The school reportedly gave the Crumbleys the option of taking Ethan home or keeping him in class.
They decided to keep him at school, where he injected himself hours later. “Reasonable doubt can be found in the fact that Ms. Crumbley was told by trained professionals that her son was not a risk,” Ms. Smith said, emphasizing that the school did not force the parents to take the sophomore from high school home.
The defense also raised the prosecution’s claim that Mrs. Crumbley did not tell the school that she and her husband had just purchased a gun for their son. Experts testified that students are known to go to shooting ranges frequently and know it is a “gun community.”
Earlier this week, Crumbley’s lover, Brian Meloche, testified that the couple had a six-month affair starting in the spring of 2021. They have not spoken since Crumbley was arrested in December 2021, he said.
Ms. Smith claimed Mr. Meloche was “inconsistent” and called him a “terrible witness.”
“He’s just an idiot and he has no idea,” she said, referring to him claiming that Ms. Crumbley told him the 9mm handgun was in her car on the day of the shooting.
During her own testimony, Ms. Crumbley called that statement inaccurate and said Mr. Meloche “must have been confused” about the timing.
The defense also rejected the prosecution’s attempt to cut off the defense claim that Ms. Crumbley is a “hypervigilant” and “helicopter mom.”
Ms. Smith also defended the text message her client sent to his son on the day of the shooting: “Ethan, don’t do it.” Mrs. Crumbley was worried that her son would commit suicide, she said.
The defense attorney also addressed the Crumbleys’ behavior after the shooting, insisting that Mrs. Crumbley was not trying to “run away” from authorities.
Staying at her friend’s artist studio is proof of this, because there were security cameras around and the couple was smoking in plain sight outside, she argued.
“The Crumbleys weren’t running. They were just trying to turn themselves in,” she said, before reading texts indicating the couple knew they were surrounded by police in the studio.
Ms Smith also emphasized that this was not James Crumbley’s trial, but he was the one who knew about the weapons. Meanwhile, Mrs. Crumbley didn’t know the difference between thread locks and cable locks.
It is also not “unreasonable” for Ms. Crumbley to have suggested that her husband go to meet with school officials instead of her. He had a more flexible schedule since he was a DoorDash driver and she had a “professional career,” the attorney argued. “She shouldn’t be criticized for that.”
Ms. Smith said “the prosecution made a charging decision too quickly.” Despite previously criticizing Mr. Meloche, the defense attorney agreed with her description of this case as a “witch hunt.”
“The prosecution had no context because they had tunnel vision,” Ms Smith said. “They were hell-bent” on convincing jurors that she was negligent.
“A not guilty verdict is the only fair and equitable outcome in this case,” the defense attorney argued.
The trial ended on Friday. The jury will return on Monday at 9:00 a.m. to receive instructions and begin deliberations.