Shooter’s Mother Stands Trial After Killings

Jennifer Crumbley is the mother of a murderer. She is now on trial.

Two competing narratives emerged at the outset of Crumbley’s indictment.

One told the story of a careless mother whose son committed the worst school shooting in Michigan history, while the other portrayed Crumbley as a good mother—even going so far as to be “hypervigilant”—who was unaware of her son’s problems until the tragedy happened.

The central question in the case was whether parents might face criminal charges for their children’s violent offenses. Security footage of the incident, including some of the victims, was shown. Witnesses, including one employee who was shot in the arm, described the fear they felt as they testified.

Following a guilty plea to twenty-four crimes, including first-degree murder, Ethan Crumbley was last month handed a life term without parole. The Crumbley charges, which include accusations against both Ms. Crumbley and her husband, James, are pioneering an effort by some prosecutors to bring parents to justice when they are believed to have enabled their children to commit heinous acts of violence. Some parents have recently entered guilty pleas to accusations of carelessness or negligence related to their children’s involvement in gun crime in other states.

More grave accusations, including four counts of involuntary manslaughter, were leveled against Ms. Crumbley at her trial in Michigan. The prosecution claims that Ethan’s mother is legally responsible for the violence at Oxford High School because, despite obvious warning signs of her son’s violent intent, she failed to exercise “ordinary care” to prevent the tragedy. They claim that her actions were a factor in the murders, which is why they are charging her with manslaughter.

Additionally, Mr. Crumbley, 47, will face charges in a separate trial in March. The Oakland County Jail has both parents in custody because they cannot afford to post a bond of $1 million each. Court documents filed in the months preceding the trial made many details of the case public.