February 22nd, 2024

Testimony concludes in manslaughter trial of Michigan school shooter’s mom

By Ed White, The Associated Press on February 2, 2024.

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) – Seven days of emotional testimony concluded Friday in the involuntary-manslaughter trial of a Michigan school shooter’s mom that involved evidence about whether she could have prevented the deaths of four students.

Jurors will begin their deliberations in the case against Jennifer Crumbley on Monday; the judge decided to send them home for the weekend after attorneys for both sides wrapped up their closing arguments.

Prosecutors tried to attack Crumbley’s testimony after she rejected claims that she should be responsible for the deaths of four students in 2021. During cross-examination Friday, assistant prosecutor Marc Keast reminded her – and the jury – that she could have prevented the bloodshed by taking Ethan Crumbley home hours earlier when confronted with his violent drawing on a math paper.

“On November the 30th of 2021, at 12:51 p.m., you could have been with him,” assistant prosecutor Marc Keast said, referring to the time of the attack.

“I could have, yes,” Jennifer Crumbley replied.

“And you didn’t,” Keast shot back.

Jennifer Crumbley, 45, and husband James, 47, are accused of making a gun accessible at home and not addressing Ethan’s mental health. They are the first parents in the U.S. to be charged in a mass school shooting committed by their child.

On Thursday, Jennifer Crumbley denied any responsibility for storing the 9 mm handgun, which was purchased by James Crumbley, with their son present, four days before the tragedy.

She acknowledged taking Ethan to a shooting range, even buying 100 rounds of ammunition, but said her husband was in charge of keeping track of the gun at home.

Keast tried to raise doubts that she would put such important control in the hands of her husband, a DoorDash driver.

“It’s pretty clear you didn’t trust James with much,” Keast said, pointing to messages between the couple. “You didn’t trust him to get out of bed on time. You didn’t trust him to cut the grass. … You didn’t trust your husband to hold down a job. But this is the person you entrusted with a deadly weapon?”

James Crumbley, 47, faces trial in March on identical involuntary manslaughter charges. Ethan, now, 17, is serving a life sentence for murder and other crimes.

Jennifer Crumbley said she didn’t think “it was relevant” to tell school officials about the new gun when she and her husband were summoned to discuss Ethan’s disturbing drawing. It depicted a gun and bullet and the lines, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me. The world is dead. My life is useless.”

A counselor and school administrator both said they urged the parents to get him into mental health care as soon as possible. They said the Crumbleys, however, declined to take him home.

Ethan returned to class and began shooting later that day. No one had checked his backpack for a gun.

“I have zero help for my mental problems and it’s causing me to shoot up the … school,” he wrote in a journal that was found in his backpack and offered as evidence.

“My parents won’t listen to me about help or therapist,” the boy, then 15, said.

On Thursday, under questioning by her lawyer, Jennifer Crumbley said she wouldn’t do anything differently but wished her son would have “killed us instead.”

“I don’t want to say that I’m a victim because I don’t want to disrespect those families that truly are the victims on this,” she told the jury. “But we did lose a lot.”

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Follow Ed White at https://twitter.com/edwritez

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