Jury Finds Mother of School Shooter Guilty of Manslaughter in Precedent-Setting Verdict

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, Pool

In a case that tested the scope of who is responsible for a mass shooting, the mother of a school shooter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the tragedy.

A jury found Jennifer Crumbley guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each victim of her son’s shooting rampage at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, in November 2021.

On Wednesday’s show, Megyn was joined by attorneys Dave Aronberg and Mike Davis to discuss the precedent-setting verdict and where the accountability lies in cases like this.

[Editor’s Note: Megyn and The Megyn Kelly Show have a policy of not naming mass shooters.]

Jennifer Crumbley Convicted

It took a Michigan jury roughly 11 hours to find Crumbley guilty of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the November 2021 school shooting carried out by her then-15-year-old son that left four students dead and seven other people wounded.

Crumbley was convicted of four counts, one for each of the victims – Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Tate Myre, 16, Justin Shilling, 17, and Hana St. Juliana, 14 – of the attack. Each count carries a maximum punishment of up to 15 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for April 9. 

Prosecutors argued the Crumbley parents, who purchased their son the gun used in the shooting, failed to adequately respond to warning signs displayed by the shooter in the lead up to the incident. That included a meeting they had at the school the morning of the shooting after a teacher found graphic drawings. School officials testified that the parents chose not to take their son home despite urgings.

The jury foreperson told an ABC News producer on her way out of the courthouse on Monday that the verdict ultimately “came down to the fact that Jennifer was the last adult with the gun.”

While there have been other instances of parents being charged for a shooting carried out by their children, this was considered the first of its kind for a mass shooting in a school. The shooter’s father, James Crumbley, also faces four counts of involuntary manslaughter and will have a separate trial in March.

Late last year, the Crumbleys’ son was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to 24 charges, including first-degree premeditated murder and terrorism causing death.

Precedent-Setting Verdict

As Megyn noted, the “novel” verdict in many ways marks “a new chapter in accountability for mass shootings,” and both Aronberg and Davis agreed with the jury’s decision.

Aronberg said Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald deserved “kudos” for her handling of the case. “This was an unprecedented case by a gutsy prosecutor who reflected the mood of the country that we’ve had enough of these school shooters and someone needs to be held accountable,” he said. “It’s not enough and it’s unsatisfying just to throw the then-15 year old in jail for life when the parents here acted so egregiously.”

He believes the Crumbleys did more than just “ignore the clear signs of mental illness” exhibited by their son. “Instead of getting them a therapist, they bought them a gun; and then they didn’t secure the gun; and then when the kid was found looking for ammunition on his cell phone, the mother ignored the calls from the school and texted him, ‘Lol. I’m not mad at you. Just don’t get caught,'” he explained. “And then the worst thing is when the kid drew a very disturbing drawing of shooting up a school… the parents never mentioned to the school that they had bought a gun; they never checked his backpack; and they refused to take him home.”

For those reasons, he said Crumbley being found “guilty of all counts” is “justice.” It’s the specifics of the case, Megyn added, not the basic fact that Crumbley is the mother of the shooter that led to the outcome. “It doesn’t mean all parents who have a school shooter for a child are now going to be held accountable,” she shared. “This case does seem egregious. As the facts developed, it got worse.”

While Davis agreed that “it was the recklessness on this mother’s part that makes her criminally culpable in this case,” he questioned what kind of precedent this sets. “You have to wonder how these people who are cheering on this criminal case would respond if we use the same criminal theory for parents whose minor children are carjacking, and robbing, and causing mayhem in Washington, DC,” he said. “I am all for arresting the parents, but somehow I don’t think that too many people in DC would agree with that theory.”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Aronberg and Davis by tuning in to episode 719 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.