Parents of Michigan teen school shooter to face trial

By Rich McKay

(Reuters) – The parents of a teenage school shooter who killed four students and wounded six other people in 2021 at his Detroit-area high school will stand trial for involuntary manslaughter, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.

The court, in Lansing, Michigan, ruled that it would not hear the appeal of the parents of Ethan Crumbley, who was 15 at the time of the Oxford High School shooting. His parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, are seeking to avoid trial on four counts of involuntary manslaughter each.

The case appears to be the first time that parents of a teenage school shooter have been charged for involvement in their offspring’s alleged crimes, and is seen by some as a litmus test on whether parents can be held accountable in school shootings.

The Crumbleys’ attorneys, Shannon Smith and Mariell Lehman, were not immediately available for comment.

Prosecutors argued that the parents can be charged because they showed gross negligence for failing to secure the weapon. The Crumbleys have been accused of knowing their son was troubled and too young to own a gun, but buying him one anyway. The 9mm semi-automatic pistol was used in the slayings two years ago.

The parents had sought to have the charges thrown out.

In a terse, one-sentence ruling, the state Supreme Court in Lansing, Michigan, ruled that the “judgment of the Court of Appeals is considered, and it is DENIED, because we are not persuaded that the question presented should be reviewed by this Court.”

An Oakland County Circuit Court and a panel of three Michigan Court of Appeals judges have already ruled against the Crumbleys.

The Crumbleys’ attorneys have argued that prosecutors cannot demonstrate that a juror could decide that a reasonably foreseeable outcome of the Crumbleys’ alleged gross negligence was their son committing a shooting in November, 2021, the Detroit News reported. They said their son’s criminal conduct was the sole cause of harm to the victims and the shooting was not reasonably foreseeable.

The Crumbleys each face charges connected to the deaths of Oxford High students Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Justin Shilling, 17.

Ethan Crumbley has pleaded guilty to charges including one count of terrorism causing death and four counts of first-degree murder.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Bernadette Baum)