Parents of Michigan mass shooter to be sentenced in landmark case

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Parents of Michigan mass shooter to be sentenced in landmark case

The parents of a Michigan school shooter who killed four students are due to be sentenced on Tuesday, marking the end of a landmark criminal case.

James and Jennifer Crumbley were both found guilty of manslaughter charges and each face up to 15 years in prison.

Jurors found that they ignored their son’s mental health needs and bought him the gun he used in the 2021 attack.

The first parents of a mass shooter held criminally liable in the US were each convicted in separate trials.

Their son was just 15 years old when he killed fellow students Tate Myre, 16; Hana St Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17, with a semi-automatic handgun at Oxford High School. Seven others were also wounded in the shooting.

The gunman, Ethan, is now serving life in prison without parole.

In the two trials, prosecutors accused the Crumbleys of ignoring warning signs about the potential danger Ethan posed, and of being negligent by allowing him to have a gun.

The two bought the weapon their son used just days before the deadly shooting.

Each was eventually found guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each of the students their son murdered. Tuesday’s sentencing is expected to include statements from the victim’s families.

While each charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years, the sentences are likely to be served concurrently.

Police charged the Crumbleys within days of the shooting, but were forced to launch a manhunt to find them after they failed to appear for an arraignment.

Eventually, police found the pair in an industrial area in Detroit following a tip from the public.

Ahead of the sentencing, defence lawyers for the Crumbleys called for leniency.

In a highly unusual move, Jennifer Crumbley’s lawyer, Shannon Smith, even offered to let her live in a guest house, arguing that she has “suffered significantly” in the wake of the shooting and that imprisonment “does nothing to protect society”.

“She in reality has lost everything,” Ms Smith wrote. “And she is saddled with extra baggage knowing the horrific acts her son did to others and always second guessing every choice she made as a parent.”

Similarly, James Crumbley’s attorney, Mariell Lehman argued that there was no way he could have known his son’s intentions.

Prosecutors, however, argued that profanity-laden jailhouse calls from him – including some in which he allegedly threatened prosecutors – are evidence of a “total lack of remorse”.

“He blamed everyone but himself for what happened,” prosecutors wrote.

On the day of the shooting, the Crumbleys cut short a school meeting about a disturbing drawing their son had made, instead opting to go to work and not take him home.

School staff later sent him back to class without checking his backpack, which contained the gun his parents had purchased.

An independent investigation published last year alleged multiple failures from the school system, including the decision to allow Ethan to return to class.

In response, the school district has pledged to review and improve its practices and policies.