Prosecutors on Friday sought to attack the credibility of the mother of a Michigan school shooter, a day after she denied knowing her son had mental health problems and rejected claims that she should be responsible for the death. of four students in 2021.
During cross-examination, the prosecutor reminded Jennifer Crumbley (and the jury) that she could have prevented the bloodshed by bringing Ethan Crumbley home hours earlier when confronted by his violent drawing on a math assignment.
“On November 30, 2021, at 12:51 p.m., you could have been with him,” said deputy prosecutor Marc Keast, referring to the time of the attack.
“I could have, yes,” Jennifer Crumbley responded.
“And you didn’t,” Keast replied.
Jennifer Crumbley, 45, and her husband James, 47, are accused of making a gun accessible in the home and failing to address Ethan’s mental health. They are the first parents in the United States to be charged in a mass school shooting committed by their son.
On Thursday, Jennifer Crumbley denied any responsibility for storing the 9mm handgun, which was purchased by James Crumbley, in the presence of his son, four days before the tragedy.
She acknowledged taking Ethan to a shooting range, and even purchasing 100 rounds of ammunition, but said her husband was in charge of keeping track of the gun at home.
Keast attempted to raise doubt that she would put such important control in the hands of her husband, a DoorDash driver.
“It’s pretty clear that you didn’t trust James very much,” Keast said, pointing to messages between the pair. “You didn’t trust him to get up on time. You didn’t trust him to mow the lawn. …You didn’t trust your husband to hold down a job. But this is the person you entrusted with a deadly weapon?
James Crumbley, 47, will face trial in March on identical charges of involuntary manslaughter. Ethan, now 17, is serving a life sentence for murder and other crimes.
Jennifer Crumbley said she didn’t think it was “relevant” to inform school officials about the new weapon when she and her husband were summoned to discuss Ethan’s disturbing drawing. It depicted a gun and a bullet and the lines: “Thoughts will not stop. Help me. The world is dead. “My life is useless.”
A counselor and school administrator said they urged parents to take him to a mental health care facility as soon as possible. They said the Crumbleys, however, refused to take him home.
Ethan returned to class and started shooting that same day. No one had checked his backpack for a weapon.
“I have no help for my mental problems and it is causing me to shoot myself at school,” he wrote in a journal that was found in his backpack and offered as evidence.
“My parents don’t listen to me when it comes to help or a therapist,” said the boy, who was 15 at the time.
Under questioning from her attorney Thursday, Jennifer Crumbley said she wouldn’t do anything differently, but that she wished her son “had killed us.”
“I don’t want to say I’m a victim because I don’t want to disrespect the families who really are the victims of this,” she told the jury. “But we lost a lot.”
Follow Ed White at https://twitter.com/edwritez