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Mother of Oxford Shooter Found Guilty

Jennifer Crumbley is escorted from the courtroom by police after her verdict is delivered.
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
Jennifer Crumbley is escorted from the courtroom by police after her verdict is delivered.

Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of the 2021 Oxford High School shooter, was convicted on four counts of involuntary manslaughter by a jury on Feb. 6.

Jennifer and James Crumbley were arrested at a Detroit warehouse on Dec. 2, and soon after the couple’s bail was set at $500,000 each. Both parents pleaded not guilty on all counts.

According to Jonathan W. Hickman, a Professor of Media Law and Ethics at the University of North Georgia and Chief Public Defender for Coweta County, the jury in this case was “swayed by evidence that she did not take affirmative action to prevent her son from committing this heinous crime.”

Both the prosecution and defense are restrained from commenting on the case by a gag order until the end of James Crumbley’s trial, which is set to commence March 5. The jury foreperson in the mother’s case, however, reportedly told an ABC News producer that the decision “came down to the fact that Jennifer was the last adult with the gun.”

The state of Michigan’s penal code does not distinguish between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter apart from instructions given to the jury.

Crumbley is the first U.S. parent to be charged with manslaughter in connection to a school shooting carried out by their child. Sentencing is scheduled for April 9, at which she could be charged with up to 15 years in prison.

The prosecution proved the convicted mother could have intervened at several points over the time that Ethan Crumbley possessed the gun. This intervention could have come in the form of either securing the weapon or getting her clearly troubled son help, both of which she neglected to do.

School officials testified that the parents were called into school to discuss disturbing doodles on their child’s homework.

The writing, which spoke of voices in the at-the-time 15-year-old boy’s head, followed a shocking pattern Ethan Crumbley depicted in his behavior in the days leading up to the shooting. This pattern included looking up ammunition on the internet in class, watching shooting videos in class and drawing violent pictures on other pieces of homework.

The Crumbleys, who told the officials they had to get back to work, promised to get the boy mental health help but declined to pull him out that day. Just hours later, the boy commenced the school shooting.

A graph on school shootings in the 21st century. Photo Credit: National Center for Education Statistics. NOTE: NCES’ website states that school shootings ” include all incidents in which a gun is brandished or fired or a bullet hits school property for any reason, regardless of the number of victims (including zero), time, day of the week, or reason.”

Regardless, Hickman said that the horror of cases such as these should be enough for action and that changes in school policy regarding the search of students’ belongings and interactions with parents are likely to follow.

As a parent, educator and someone who’s been in the classroom, this should give us all pause. We should hug our children; we should listen to them more… We can stop this senseless death by opening our eyes and our ears.

— Jonathan W. Hickman, Media Law and Ethics Professor and Coweta County Chief Public Defender

Personal prevention set aside, the future of legal action against parents in connection with these kinds of cases seems clear: gross negligence in the face of a growing trend in shootings will not be tolerated.

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About the Contributor
Bruce Clark
Bruce Clark, Editor In Chief

My name is Bruce Clark, and I am the next Editor in Chief for the Vanguard. I attend UNG Gainesville and will graduate with my Bachelor's in Communications with a focus in Multimedia Journalism in 2025. I write about events, academic programs and a handful of other miscellaneous topics and look forward to building our newspaper over the course of the next year.

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