PONTIAC, Mich. (WNEM) – After sitting through seven full days of emotional and heavy testimony, the jury in Jennifer Crumbley’s trial has begun deliberations.
Jennifer Crumbley could go to prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of four students who were killed when her son, Ethan Crumbley, opened fire at Oxford High School in November 2021.
If convicted, she would be the first parent in the country sentenced for a mass school shooting at the hands of her child.
“You may find the defendant guilty of all, or any one of these counts, or not guilty,” Judge Cheryl A. Matthews said to the jury.
After lengthy closing arguments Friday, the jury was sent home and instructed not to discuss or research the case over the weekend.
Jennifer Crumbley faces four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with her son’s deadly mass shooting.
“As jurors, you must decide what the facts of this case are. This is your job and nobody else’s. You must think about all the evidence and then decide what each piece of evidence means and how important you think it is. This includes what you believe what each of the witnesses said,” Matthews said.
Matthews said each element of a crime must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
“A doubt based on reason and common sense. A reasonable doubt is just that. A doubt that’s reasonable after careful and considerate examination of the facts and circumstances of this case,” she explained.
There were 21 witnesses called to the stand by the prosecution, while the defense only called Jennifer Crumbley to testify.
“Do you know if the gun was brought into the house and put away?” defense attorney Shannon Smith asked Jennifer Crumbley during examination last week.
“Yes,” Jennifer Crumbley replied.
“OK. How do you know that?” Smith asked.
“Uh, my husband told me,” Jennifer Crumbley replied.
Part of the defense strategy involved pinning the blame for gun security on James Crumbley, with Jennifer Crumbley testifying her husband was the one responsible for storing the guns inside their home.
“I just didn’t feel comfortable being in charge of that,” Jennifer Crumbley said during her testimony. “It was more of his thing, so I let him handle that.”
The defense also asked Jennifer Crumbley if she would have done things differently if given the chance.
“I’ve asked myself if I would’ve done anything differently, and I wouldn’t have,” Jennifer Crumbley testified.
“If you could change what happened, would you?” Smith asked.
“Oh, absolutely,” Jennifer Crumbley said. “I wish he would’ve killed us instead.”
Her testimony that she was a “hyper-vigilant” parent was called into question numerous times. Prosecutors pointed to text messages and journal entries from Ethan Crumbley, saying he had asked his parents for help and they ignored him.
“Now you told this jury that when your son texted you that he was seeing demons and bowls flying off the shelf, that was in the spring of 2021. You recall that evidence, right?” assistant prosecutor Marc Keast asked during the trial last week.
“Correct,” Jennifer Crumbley replied.
“You don’t dispute that that was on your phone?” Keast said.
“No,” Jennifer Crumbley said.
“You don’t dispute that at some point you read those messages?” Keast said.
“No,” Jennifer Crumbley said.
Despite those messages — along with other texts and journal entries where her son expressed his concerns to his parents — Jennifer Crumbley maintained there was no indication her son was struggling mentally, referring to his text messages as jokes.
“They did nothing. They didn’t do any number of tragically small and easy things that would have prevented all of this from happening,” Keast said.
Matthews said the verdict from the jury must be unanimous.
The jury was sent home for the day around 5 p.m. on Monday, but they will resume deliberations at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
James Crumbley, father of the Oxford school shooter, is set to start his trial in March. He has also been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Ethan Crumbley was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in December.
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