Watch CBS News

Jury finds Jennifer Crumbley guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter

Jennifer Crumbley found guilty of involuntary manslaughter
Jennifer Crumbley found guilty of involuntary manslaughter 10:36

(CBS DETROIT) - A jury has found Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of the Oxford High School shooter, guilty of all four counts of involuntary manslaughter. 

Jennifer Crumbley will be sentenced on April 9. She faces up to 60 years in prison — 15 for each count.

Jury deliberations, which lasted 11 hours, began Monday after a week-long trial to determine if the mother bears any responsibility for the Oxford High School shooting, where her son killed four students, Justin Shilling, Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, and Hana St. Juliana, and injured seven other people on Nov. 30, 2021.

The jury foreperson told CBS News Detroit's Andres Gutierrez that one factor that the jury focused on was that Jennifer Crumbley was the last adult with the gun before her son used it in the mass shooting. 

Jennifer Crumbley is the first parent in the United States to go on trial in a mass school shooting carried out by their child. 

Jury finds Jennifer Crumbley guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter 02:21

Joe Tamburino, a legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, spoke with "CBS Evening News" and said the case "will create a huge precedent for further cases."

"Think about it, the next time there's some type of school shooting, they could arrest the parents, everything. This is gonna change the landscape," Tamburino said.

Following Tuesday's conviction, Craig Shilling, the father of Justin Shilling, said he felt a "slap in my face" when Jennifer Crumbley testified she wouldn't do anything differently.

"It hurts. Something like that hurts because I would do it a lot differently. I would do a lot of stuff different," he said.

When asked about Crumbley's testimony, Shilling said, "You'd like to think as a human being, in the situation that we're in that, you know, you would have a level of respect, a level of honesty about you to project something positive in this situation, and I didn't really take much good out of the whole testimony."

The trial for her husband, James Crumbley, is scheduled to begin on March 5. He is charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Breaking down the Jennifer Crumbley trial after guilty verdict 07:00

James Crumbley is accused of not getting his son the necessary help for his mental health needs and for purchasing the gun for their son, which was used in the shooting.  

"My first thoughts today are with the families of the victims and the community so terribly impacted by this tragedy," said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard. "You have my unwavering support. I know that this is not just a re-opening of a wound, it is tearing wider a wound that has yet to heal. Each time my staff re-lives that terrible day in that school through their testimony, I can see the burden in their faces. 

"I applaud the jury that plowed new ground with this verdict today. If among a parent's first thoughts when you hear word there is an active shooter at your child's school isn't to wonder if my child is hurt but is my son the gunman. That tells me you saw the signs and did nothing. Accountability and responsibility matter. There is ongoing help and support for the community not just through the Sheriff's Office, but through the Oxford Resiliency center. Reach out."

The shooter was sentenced to life in prison without parole in December.

"Today, my heart remains with the families of four of Oxford's brightest lights - Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana and Justin Shilling - along with the extended Oxford community," Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said in a statement. "While their pain and grief can never be diminished, the guilty verdict is a strong signal and an important step toward accountability. Let us all embrace the community with love and the continued support they need on their path toward healing. I appreciate the hard work and talented efforts of Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald and her team in this important case."

Closing arguments in the trial of Jennifer Crumbley 

Jennifer Crumbley's cross-examination ended Friday, and closing arguments began after a week of testimony, in which the mother also took the stand herself. 

The prosecution and the defense each spent over an hour making their closing arguments. 

Closing arguments conclude in trial of Jennifer Crumbley, mother of Oxford High School shooter 11:00

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said in her closing argument that it wasn't easy to watch the trial and hear about how the four students were killed in the Oxford High School shooting. 

The prosecution argues that the mother should be held partially responsible for the deaths of the four students because she ignored signs of the shooter's mental health needs and purchased the gun that her son used in the shooting.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said "just the smallest steps" by the mother could have prevented the deaths of the four students.  

The defense maintains that Jennifer Crumbley did her best at being an attentive parent and did not know about the journal entries her son made where he talked about his mental health struggles and the shooting. 

Shannon Smith, Jennifer Crumbley's attorney, said the prosecution had "cherry-picked" evidence to show the innocent mother as being a negligent parent.   

What was revealed during the testimony of the Jennifer Crumbley trial

Several people testified in Jennifer Crumbley's trial. 

Shawn Hopkins, a counselor at Oxford High School, testified about how teachers had emailed him with concerns they had about the shooter. 

He also spoke about the meeting he had with the Crumbley parents the morning of the shooting, which was prompted after a teacher found violent drawings on his math assignment. Hopkins said that if the parents didn't get their son their son the therapy he needed for his mental health within 48 hours, he planned to contact Child Protective Services. 

The former dean of students at Oxford High School, Nicholas Ejak, testified that there was no "reasonable suspicion" to search the shooter's backpack the morning of the shooting. 

Dispute over text messages exchanged between Jennifer Crumbley, attorney about turning self in 05:16

Detectives testified about responding to the school on the day of the shooting and finding Jennifer Crumbley after she was charged. 

Brian Meloche, a friend of Jennifer Crumbley's from high school, also testified. While he was on the stand, the jury learned about the affair between Meloche and Jennifer Crumbley.

Facebook messages exchanged between the two before and after the shooting were shown in court. 

On Dec. 2, Jennifer Crumbley messaged Meloche about the involuntary manslaughter charges.

"We're on the run again. Helicopters not sure where to I'll message you," Crumbley said.

On Dec. 3, the mother messaged Meloche about how school officials said the shooter could stay in school.

"His f------ backpack was with him why didn't they search it?" Jennifer Crumbley said.

Journal entries made by the shooter were also shown in court during the testimony of Timothy Willis, a detective lieutenant with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office, who found the journal in the shooter's backpack. 

Here are some of the things the shooter wrote in the journal:

  • "I have zero help for my mental problems and it's causing me to shoot up the f------ school."
  • "I want help, but my parents don't listen to me so I can't get any help."
  • "My parents won't listen to me about help or a therapist."
  • "I want to shoot up the f------ school so badly."
  • "Soon I am going to buy a 9 mm pistol."
  • "I'm about to shoot up the school and spend the rest of my life in prison."
  • "First off, I got my gun. It's a SP 2022 Sig Sauer 9mm. Second the shooting is tomorrow. I have access to the gun and the ammo. I am fully committed to this now. So yeah...I'm going to prison for life and many people have about one day left to live."

Jennifer Crumbley also took the stand in her trial and said she wouldn't have done anything differently as a mother but wishes her son would have acted differently in reference to the shooting.

"I wish he would have killed us instead," Jennifer Crumbley said. 

She said that she never would have thought that her son would put other people in danger.

"As a parent, you spend your whole life trying to protect your child from other dangers," Jennifer Crumbley said. "You never would think you would have to protect your child from harming somebody else. That's what blew my mind. That was the hardest thing I had to stomach, was that my child harmed and killed people."

She testified that her husband was responsible for storing the gun that was used on the day of the shooting.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.