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April 9, 2024

Parents of Michigan school shooter both sentenced to 10 to 15 years in state prison

As reported in this New York Times piece, "Jennifer and James Crumbley, who were convicted of involuntary manslaughter for failing to prevent their teenage son from killing four fellow students in the deadliest school shooting in Michigan’s history, were each sentenced on Tuesday to 10 to 15 years in prison." Here is more:

Their separate jury trials ended in guilty verdicts in February and March, making them the first parents in the country to be convicted over the deaths caused by their child in a mass shooting.

Involuntary manslaughter charges carry a penalty in Michigan of up to 15 years in prison, and prosecutors asked in sentencing memos filed to the court last week that the Crumbleys each serve at least 10 years. Both have been in jail for more than two years while awaiting trial and will receive credit for time served.

“Parents are not expected to be psychic,” Judge Cheryl Matthews of the Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac, Mich., said before issuing the sentence. “But these convictions are not about poor parenting. These convictions confirm repeated acts or lack of acts that could have halted an oncoming runaway train — repeatedly ignoring things that would make a reasonable person feel the hair on the back of her neck stand up.”

Before the hearing, prosecutors said that Ms. Crumbley, 46, was asking to be sentenced to house arrest on her defense lawyer’s property, rather than serving prison time. And Mr. Crumbley, 47, said that he had been wrongly convicted and his sentence should amount to the time he had already served in prison, adding that he felt “absolutely horrible” about what had happened....

The Crumbleys’ son, Ethan, was 15 when he carried out the shooting that killed Justin and Hana, as well as Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Tate Myre, 16. Seven others were injured. Ethan Crumbley pleaded guilty to 24 charges, including first-degree murder, and was sentenced last year to life in prison without parole. He is still eligible to appeal that decision. His parents may appeal, too.

In the trials of both parents, prosecutors focused in part on their failure to remove their son from school after he made a violent drawing on the morning of the shooting. It included a written plea for help. They also emphasized Ethan’s access to a handgun that Mr. Crumbley had purchased. And they said that Ms. Crumbley had missed signs that her son was struggling with his mental health, adding that she took him to a gun range just days before the shooting.

Defense lawyers for both parents said they could not have foreseen the unspeakable violence their son would commit.

Their trials became a lightning rod for issues of parental responsibility at a time of high-profile gun violence by minors. In recent months, parents in other states have pleaded guilty to charges of reckless conduct or neglect after their children injured or killed others with guns. But the manslaughter charges against the Crumbleys were unique, and legal experts aid their trials could serve as a playbook for other prosecutors who seek to hold parents accountable in the future.

I am not familiar with Michigan's parole processes, but I sense this sentencing determination will ensure that the Crumbley parents will be serving a considerable amount of prison time.

April 9, 2024 at 01:08 PM | Permalink


OTL https://www.nationalreview.com/news/oakland-crime-wave-burglaries-nearly-doubled-over-last-three-years-as-arrests-cut-in-half/

Posted by: federalist | Apr 9, 2024 3:28:35 PM

More OT:


an outrage.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 9, 2024 6:06:55 PM

Going that far above guidelines (reported as 43-86 months) on a novel theory of liability makes me uneasy. Also, their conduct does not strike me as calling for a 2x-3x uplift from a heartland involuntary manslaughter case.

Posted by: Jason | Apr 9, 2024 7:39:29 PM

I'd like to re-read the statute.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 10, 2024 9:25:40 AM

I agree with Jason. This case raises some very difficult questions that are largely being swept under the rug in favor of loud virtue signalling.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 11, 2024 9:40:59 PM

While this particular application is novel, it is based on classic model penal code concepts related to accomplice liability. Did the parents aid the defendant in committing the offense? They apparently supplied the weapon which is a classic aiding act in homicide cases. That leaves the question of whether they had the requiste mental state. Not having heard all of the evidence, my general understanding from the media coverage is that they had information suggesting that he was having homicidal thoughts but still gave him a weapon that he could use to carry out. Now, under the model penal code, an accomplice is only responsible for the degree of offense that matches their mental state. Is giving a weapon to somebody who has threatened to kill somebody at least reckless? In other circumstances (something other than a parent with a child), prosecutors have been willing to claim that such an act supports a mental state of knowing if there is any evidence supporting the inference that the accomplice agreed with having the victim killed. So the issue is whether indifference to what the child might do with the gun enough to support a finding of reckless.

Posted by: tmm | Apr 13, 2024 10:42:01 PM

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