A jury appears curious why a Michigan school shooter did not testify at his mother’s trial, the only clue so far about deliberations in a case centered on whether the father can be held responsible for an attack that killed four students. in 2021.
Jennifer Crumbley is charged with involuntary manslaughter. Jurors spent a full day Monday without reaching a verdict and will return Tuesday to a suburban Detroit courtroom.
Early Monday afternoon, the jury sent a note to the judge asking if he could “infer anything” from prosecutors’ failure to present Ethan Crumbley or others to specifically explain how he gained access to a gun in his home to shoot Oxford High School.
“The answer is no,” Oakland County Judge Cheryl Matthews said. “Only the evidence that was admitted in the case is allowed to be considered.”
Prosecutors say Jennifer Crumbley had a duty under Michigan law to prevent her son, who was 15 at the time, from harming others. She is accused of failing to get a gun and ammunition from her home and failing to get help for her son’s mental health.
On the morning of November 30, 2021, school staff were concerned about a violent drawing of a gun, a bullet, and a wounded man, accompanied by desperate phrases, on Ethan Crumbley’s math homework. He was allowed to stay at school after a meeting with his parents, who did not take him home.
A few hours later, Ethan Crumbley pulled a gun from his backpack and shot 10 students and a teacher, killing four classmates. No one had checked the backpack.
The gun was the 9mm Sig Sauer that his father, James Crumbley, had bought him just four days earlier. Jennifer Crumbley took her son to a shooting range that same weekend.
“You are the last adult to possess that gun,” Deputy Prosecutor Marc Keast said while questioning Jennifer Crumbley last week. “You saw your son shoot the last practice round before the (school) shooting on November 30th. You saw how he stood up. …He knew how to use the gun.”
The teen’s mother responded, “Yes, he did.”
Ethan Crumbley, now 17, pleaded guilty to murder and terrorism and is serving a life sentence. Prosecutors were not required to call him as a witness to try to prove his case against Jennifer Crumbley.
Her lawyer argued last week that the teenager could help in her defense. It didn’t matter: The judge kept him off the witness stand because Ethan Crumbley’s lawyers said he would invoke his right to remain silent. He could still appeal his sentence.
Jennifer and James Crumbley are the first parents in the United States to be charged in a mass school shooting committed by their son. James Crumbley, 47, faces trial in March.
Jennifer Crumbley, 45, told jurors it was her husband’s job to keep track of the gun. She also said that she saw no signs of mental distress in her son.
“We would talk. We did a lot of things together,” she testified. “I trusted him and felt like I had an open door. “He could come to me for anything.”
In a diary found by police, Ethan Crumbley wrote that his parents did not listen to his pleas for help.
“I have no help for my mental problems and it is causing me to shoot myself up at school,” she wrote.
Follow Ed White on X at https://twitter.com/edwritez