The parents of a teenager who killed four students at Oxford High School will be tried for involuntary manslaughter, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled Tuesday as it upheld an appeals court decision.
James and Jennifer Crumbley are accused of facilitating Ethan Crumbley’s access to a gun and observing his mental disorders. An appeals court ruled in March that the couple could stand trial and the Supreme Court approved the sentence.
Prosecutors in suburban Detroit need only prove that the case has merit. The appeals court said a jury could hear additional arguments from all sides.
Ethan Crumbley killed Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana and Justin Shilling at Oxford School, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) north of Detroit in November 2021. Six students and a teacher were injured.
The teenager pleaded guilty to terrorism and murder. A judge said last week that he could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The parents’ lawyers argued that the attack on the school was unexpected. They acknowledge that bad decisions were made, but it does not amount to involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years.
The teenager and his parents met with school staff the day of the shooting when a teacher discovered the violent drawings, but no one searched his backpack to see if he had a weapon. He was allowed to stay in school.
The 17-year-old, who was 15 at the time, will receive his sentence on December 8. The judge could sentence him to a prison sentence with the option of parole for decades to come.
His parents have been in jail since shortly after the shooting, unable to post $500,000 bail. Their son is in the same prison, but they have no contact with him.
Defense lawyers declined to comment because of a gag order imposed by the Supreme Court.
Psychologist Colin King, who met the teenager, described him as a “wild child” who had been neglected by his parents. Judge Kwamé Rowe said his home life was “bad”, with his parents drinking alcohol and arguing, but “not terrible”.
The teenager “obviously has a loving, supportive family,” Rowe said Friday. “He went on family vacations, he had many pets, relatives visited him … In the words of the accused, he had a “good” childhood.