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Lawyers Clash Over Allegations That Michigan Shooter’s Father Ignored Warning Signs

James Crumbley faced trial for involuntary manslaughter after his son’s tragic shooting at Oxford High School in 2021, spotlighting his alleged disregard for his son Ethan’s mental health and the security of a firearm he provided as a Christmas gift.

Charges Against James Crumbley

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Crumbley faces charges of four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Prosecutors argue that he neglected to manage his son Ethan’s mental health and did not properly secure the semi-automatic pistol used by his son in the shooting.

Prosecution’s Closing Argument

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Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald stressed in her closing arguments that Crumbley’s neglect of warning signs about his son’s instability led to a preventable tragedy, saying, “He did nothing — over and over and over again.” 

Defense’s Stance

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However, defense lawyer Mariell Lehman contested the charges, asserting that James Crumbley could not have foreseen his son’s actions.

A Family in the Spotlight

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Jennifer Crumbley, Ethan’s mother, was found guilty on identical charges last month, while Ethan Crumbley admitted to murder, among other offenses, resulting in a life imprisonment sentence without the possibility of parole.

The Day of the Shooting

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Witness accounts disclosed that on the day of the shooting, a teacher discovered unsettling drawings made by Ethan, which included a handgun and disturbing phrases.

The School’s Response

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The school summoned the Crumbleys’ because of Ethan’s alarming sketches and informed them that he needed counseling.

Despite suggestions to take Ethan home, they neglected to inspect his backpack or tackle the matter of the firearm.

Ethan’s Return to Class

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Ignoring the school’s warnings, the Crumbleys’ allowed Ethan to go back to class, where he later embarked on the fatal shooting spree.

Ethan’s Pleas for Help

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The jury was shown texts and journal entries from Ethan expressing his wish for medical help and discussing hearing voices, highlighting his mental health struggles.

A Father’s Alleged Response

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In a specific text exchange, Ethan sought medical assistance from his father, to which James is accused of responding by providing him with pills and instructing him to “suck it up.”

The Defense on James’ Awareness

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Defense lawyer Lehman maintained that there was no proof James was aware of his son’s text messages or journal entries, implying that James did not know about his son’s mental health struggles.

A Legal Precedent

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This trial sets a precedent in holding parents accountable for school shootings, a significant move in the context of the United States’ ongoing battle with gun violence and school shootings.

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