OXFORD, Mich. – The jury foreperson in the trial of Jennifer Crumbley revealed that the guilty verdict was not immediately unanimous, but evidence presented in trial, including her son’s notebook writings, played a “huge part.”
Crumbley was convicted of all four counts of involuntary manslaughter, with the jury holding her criminally responsible for the shooting carried out by her son, Ethan Crumbley, at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2021.
It was an unprecedented, unanimous decision as it marked the first time in the United States that a parent has been held responsible for their child carrying out a mass school shooting. The jury foreperson, Alex, whose last name was not disclosed for privacy, told NBC’s “TODAY” show that the evidence of Jennifer not separating her son from the gun enough to save the lives that day was a significant factor in the decision.
The mother was the last person known to have had custody of the gun before her son used it in the shooting, which led the jury to hold her responsible for securing the weapon. Alex also mentioned the emotional toll of the trial, emphasizing that the jury felt “an undeniable weight” on them as they took their responsibility seriously.
Crumbley faces up to 15 years in prison per count, with sentencing scheduled for April 9. In addition, her husband, James Crumbley, has also been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter and has pleaded not guilty, with his trial set for next month. Moreover, Ethan Crumbley, who is now 17, is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to charges that include terrorism causing death and first-degree premeditated murder.
The cases against the Crumbleys are among the rare instances of parents being charged after their children conduct mass shootings. The prosecution portrayed Crumbley as a neglectful mother. In the trial, Jennifer Crumbley testified that she doesn’t think she’s a failure as a parent and wouldn’t have done anything differently in how she parented her son, but expressed regret for what he did.
The jury foreperson noted that this line was “repeated a lot in the deliberation room” and that “there are many small things that could have been done to prevent this.” This case brings to light the issue of parental responsibility in gun violence, shedding light on the gravity of securing weapons and addressing warning signs.