James and Jennifer Crumbley say involuntary manslaughter case should be dropped

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The parents of the suspected Oxford, Michigan school gunman want the state appeals court to dismiss the criminal case against them, arguing they should never have been charged because their son is the only person responsible for the killing of four people .

Attorneys for James and Jennifer Crumbly filed a joint motion in the Michigan Circuit Court of Appeals late Monday to say prosecutors went too far by charging them with four counts of involuntary manslaughter when they were not involved in the shooting attended Oxford High School on November 30, which killed four people and injured seven people. Their then 15-year-old son Ethan Crumbley faces murder and terrorism charges as an adult following the massacre at his school.

“If the prosecution could directly link Mr. or Mrs. Crumbley to the mass shooting, they would be prosecuted for first-degree murder as if they had committed the offense directly,” the motion states. “However, since the prosecution cannot support such a claim, they are left with trying to stick a square pin in a round hole.”

In addition to appealing their charges, the Crumbleys’ attorneys requested that their son’s text messages, diaries and emails be blocked as evidence should their case go to trial.

Ethan Crumbley’s parents quickly came under scrutiny when reports surfaced of a teenager using a pistol his parents bought him as an early Christmas present four days before the shooting. Social media posts revealed that Jennifer Crumbley recently took her son to a shooting range.

Outrage at the Crumbleys grew in and around Oxford as investigators revealed more details, claiming the gun was kept in an unlocked drawer in their bedroom and a teacher spotted the teenager Crumbley using his mobile phone the day before the fatal shooting looking for information about ammunition for a gun.

Jennifer Crumbley didn’t respond when the school left an email about her son’s “inappropriate” search, prosecutors said. Instead, she wrote to her son: “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.”

Neither Oakland County District Attorney Karen McDonald’s office nor the defendants’ attorneys are allowed to comment on the case after the presiding judge issued a gag order last week.

After the Michigan school shooting, experts wonder what could have prevented it

But the spate of court filings since the Crumbleys’ arrest in December has already made the arguments of both sides clear: prosecutors say the Crumbleys’ behavior crossed the line from bad parenting to “gross negligence” and that they did not secure the gun in their home had and ignored opportunities to interfere with their son’s behavior. The defense says prosecutors are wrong in trying to make an example of parents who did not participate in their son’s alleged crime.

“The question arises when a parent crosses the subjective line of ‘good parenting’ and holds themselves criminally liable for a teenager’s independent actions,” read the Crumbleys’ motion.

The defense cites a 1961 Michigan case in which a man gave his car keys to a friend he knew was drunk, and the friend later crashed, killing himself and another driver. The Michigan Supreme Court eventually overturned the defendant’s involuntary manslaughter conviction.

Why is it rare for parents of suspected school shooters to be sued? It’s “really hard,” experts say.

The case against the Crumbleys has largely overshadowed the murder and terrorism case against their now 16-year-old son, who is being charged as an adult because it is unusual for parents or guardians of mass shooters to be charged.

“It’s really hard to show that parents disregard human life and that they actually could have predicted that their child would do that,” Eve Brensike Primus, a law professor at the University of Michigan who focuses on criminal justice, told the Washington Post last year . “That’s why these fees are so rare.”

None have been criminally convicted in the United States, although victims may have a better chance of seeking relief in civil courts, where the standard of evidence is lower. The Crumbleys are the subject of a lawsuit filed by the victims’ families, which include their son, school district officials and teachers, according to the Oakland Press.

If the Michigan Court of Appeals does not take action on the request, the couple’s case will go to trial on October 24. The couple had unsuccessfully requested a $500,000 bail reduction and a change of venue.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/07/20/crumbley-parents-appeal/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wp_national James and Jennifer Crumbley say involuntary manslaughter case should be dropped

James Brien

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