Court Battles

Court rules Michigan school shooter’s parents can stand trial for manslaughter

The Michigan Appeals Court has ruled that the parents of the gunman who shot and killed four students at a Michigan high school can stand trial for manslaughter.

The court said in an opinion published Thursday that there is enough evidence for the parents of Ethan Crumbley to stand trial, explaining that if Jennifer and James Crumbley had not provided their son with a gun or if they had taken him out of school on the day of the shooting, he would not have been able to kill four students. The court said in its opinion that the Crumbleys’ “actions and inactions were inexorably intertwined” with the actions of their son.

“This connection exists not simply because of the parent-child relationship but also because of the facts showing that defendants were actively involved in [Ethan Crumbley’s] mental state remaining untreated, that they provided him with the weapon used to kill the victims, and that they refused to remove him from the situation that led directly to the shootings,” the opinion stated.

Crumbley’s parents came to the school after school officials were alerted that Crumbley drew a troubling drawing featuring bodies with gunshot wounds and an image of a gun, similar to the one gifted to him by his parents, but they did not take him out of school, according to the court opinion. Just hours later, Crumbley used a gun that he brought to school to carry out the shootings, the opinion states.

The court added that a jury would need to fully decide whether there is a causation between the parents’ actions and the shooting that occurred.

“Whether a jury actually finds that causation has been proven after a full trial, where the record will almost surely be more expansive — including evidence produced by defendants — is an issue separate from what we decide today,” the opinion stated.

Ethan Crumbley, who was 15 at the time of the November 2021 shooting, pleaded guilty to terrorism and murder charges. He could be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Four people were killed and seven people were injured as a result of the shooting.

The Associated Press reported that Judge Michael Riordan wrote in a concurring opinion that although parents should not be sent to court for “subpar, odd or eccentric” care of their children, there was “visual evidence” that Crumbley was planning harm.

Tags Ethan Crumbley

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