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Jennifer Crumbley faces involuntary manslaughter charges after son’s shooting

Reuters | Rebecca Cook

Oakland’s county court is seeking to answer the question of who is accountable when deadly triggers are pulled in American schools. Many believe that parents’ negligence plays an important role in hundreds of school shootings every year and that those adults should be subject to prosecution. They should face criminal charges along with their children who commit these horrid actions.

In November 2021, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley took a gun out of his backpack and shot 11 people. Within minutes, the lives of students at Oxford High School in southeastern Michigan changed forever. Four students were killed, leaving four families who will never see their children go to school again, graduate or go to college.

As a result of these tragic events, Crumbley faced 24 charges and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

However, there are two more cases connected to this school shooting.

Jennifer and James Crumbley, Crumbley’s parents, have faced separate trials for involuntary manslaughter, which is the first time in American history that parents were tried for a crime their child committed.

Jennifer Crumbley is the first of the two to hear the verdict. During the seven days of the emotional trial, Crumbley’s arguments and testimonies did not look very good. When she took a three-hour stand, many of her statements contradicted the evidence and sounded like an insincere excuse for her carelessness as a parent.

Crumbley defended her parenting multiple times, stating that she did not feel like a failure.

According to the Washington Post, extending criminal liability to parents is unprecedented and it is unclear where bad parenting can cross into criminal negligence. Since the criminal justice system exclusively punishes someone for their actions and not someone else’s, this case will set a precedent on ways that justice can be brought to families who lost children to school shootings.

During the trial, the prosecution was able to show that Ethan Crumbley continuously presented signs of severe mental illness and suffered from neglect before the shooting occurred. His behavior in school and at home also raised alarms. Despite these issues, days before the incident Ethan’s parents bought him a 9mm Sig Sauer handgun as a present.

On the day of the shooting, Ethan used one of the assignments to draw a handgun with the words “The thoughts will not stop. Help me.” His parents were contacted immediately, but neither of them came to pick Ethan up. Soon after he committed the murders.

It is clear the shooting could have been prevented if not for the thoughtless actions of the Crumbleys. Despite what she might think, Jennifer Crumbley failed as a parent.

If Jennifer Crumbley is found guilty, she can face up to 15 years in prison. Even though the potential sentence can seem harsh to some, it is hoped to bring justice to the families of the teens who lost their lives due to this chain of events. The verdict is also hoped to wake up some parents who do not pay adequate attention to children that exhibit mental health issues.

Experts believe that most shooters present their intentions beforehand and parents need to learn and be able to spot these signs.

The fight to prevent gun violence continues. This trial is another step in trying to solve the school shooting crisis in this country. Although the decision has not been made yet, Jennifer Crumbley’s case will determine the new lawful definition of involuntary manslaughter in the case of school shootings and what that means for families who lose their children.

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