Mother of Michigan School Shooter Takes Stand in Her Own Trial

Mother of Michigan School Shooter Takes Stand in Her Own Trial
Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images News via Getty Images

The Facts

  • Jennifer Crumbley — whose son killed four people and injured dozens more at Oxford High School in Michigan in 2021 — took the stand Thursday on the sixth day of her trial as prosecutors look to hold her criminally responsible for her son's school shooting. Her son Ethan pleaded guilty to the shooting and is serving life in prison.

  • Jennifer Crumbley and her husband, James, each face four counts of involuntary manslaughter for their son's attack, and James will have a separate trial in March. During her hourslong testimony, Jennifer said that she and her husband often talked about their son's warning signs while also disputing school officials' claims that she did not adequately address her son's deteriorating mental health.

The Spin

Narrative A

The prosecution's argument against Jennifer Crumbley was damning, and many pieces of evidence show that she and her husband should be held responsible for their son's shooting. Well before the shooting, many people could tell that Ethan was struggling severely with his mental health, and he was crying for help with his drawings and statements. In addition to neglecting their emotionally damaged teenager, the Crumbleys bought Ethan the very weapon he would use days later to massacre his classmates.

Narrative B

While Jennifer Crumbley is far from a perfect parent, she is being punished enough by the shame and guilt from her son's actions, and she should not be held criminally responsible. Every day Crumbley will have to live with the fact that she raised a school shooter and that her son took four innocent lives. That pain and burden are even greater than prison time, and she has demonstrated her overwhelming regret and remorse. No parent has ever been held criminally responsible for a child's school shooting, and that precedent should stand.

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