Court says involuntary manslaughter case against parents of Michigan school shooter can move forward

The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that the case against the parents of school shooter Ethan Crumbley, each facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter for the murders committed by their son, can move forward.

The ruling follows the March 7 hearing when Judges Michael Riordan, Christopher Murray and Christopher Yates heard arguments about whether probable cause exists to continue with the case against James and Jennifer Crumbley, charged in connection with the mass shooting at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2021. Defense attorneys Mariell Lehman and Shannon Smith, representing James Crumbley and Jennifer Crumbley, respectively, argued for the charges to be dropped, claiming their clients had no prior knowledge about Ethan Crumbley’s planned shooting spree and therefore bear no criminal responsibility for it.

Assistant prosecutor Joseph Shada argued that the Crumbley parents did, indeed, have “reasonable foreseeability” and violated their legal duty to take actions to prevent the shootings.

The trial had been scheduled to start last January before Oakland County Circuit Judge Cheryl Matthews, but was postponed after Lehman and Smith appealed to the higher court.

In the ruling, issued March 23, Riordan elaborated on the reasons for his opinion, referencing Ethan Crumbley as “EC” and stating, in part: “In the end, our decision today is consistent with principles of proximate causation and individual responsibility in criminal law. Our legal system does not, nor should it, criminally punish people for subpar, odd, or eccentric parenting, or require that children be deprived of any instrumentality that otherwise is legal to possess and use. Moreover, I suspect that parents do not reasonably assume, as a matter of course, that their children will commit violent crimes. However, before us is the unusual case. EC was extraordinarily troubled, yet defendants nonetheless  provided him with a handgun and, despite having discrete, disturbing evidence that EC contemplated harming others, did nothing when confronted with that evidence.”

Ethan Crumbley pleading guilty last October. in Oakland County Circuit Court. (Aileen Wingblad/MediaNews Group) 

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