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Verdict: James Crumbley Found Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter

James Crumbley exits the courtroom in Pontiac, Michigan, while the jury begins deliberations in his manslaughter trial on March 13. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

On Thursday, a Michigan jury delivered a verdict of guilty on four counts of involuntary manslaughter against James Crumbley, the father of school shooter Ethan Crumbley. This decision holds James Crumbley accountable for his role in the tragic deaths of four students at Oxford High School in 2021, despite not physically committing the act.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison, to be served concurrently. Following approximately a day of deliberation, the jury reached their verdict. Crumbley remained silent but visibly reacted by shaking his head as the convictions were announced. Subsequently, he was immediately taken into custody.

The judge scheduled James Crumbley’s sentencing for April 9, aligning with the same date his wife, Jennifer, will be sentenced. Jennifer was previously convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a separate trial held last month.

During the father’s trial, prosecutors emphasized two key points: the parents’ response to a disturbing drawing discovered on Ethan Crumbley’s math assignment just hours before the tragic shooting, and the teenager’s access to a Sig Sauer 9mm handgun purchased by James Crumbley a mere four days prior to the incident.

Ethan had drawn a chilling depiction of a firearm and a wounded individual on his math assignment, accompanied by troubling phrases such as “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me. My life is useless.”

Following a brief meeting at the school, James and Jennifer Crumbley opted not to take Ethan home, a decision that was not contested by the staff. Despite the concern raised by a counselor regarding Ethan’s suicidal ideations, urging them to seek help for their son within 48 hours, the parents did not take immediate action.

Ethan confided in Shawn Hopkins, expressing his sorrow over the loss of his dog, grandmother, and a friend who had moved away abruptly. He clarified that the morbid drawing found on his math assignment was related to a video game concept and not indicative of any violent intentions.

However, neither Ethan nor his parents disclosed the recent purchase of a gun to school officials, as revealed during the trial testimony.

Hopkins, hoping to ensure Ethan’s safety, initially suggested spending the day with his parents. When this option was dismissed, it was decided that Ethan would be better off surrounded by others at school.

Tragically, Ethan retrieved the Sig Sauer handgun from his backpack later that same day and opened fire, claiming the lives of Justin Shilling, Madisyn Baldwin, Hana St. Juliana, and Tate Myre. Despite the presence of the firearm in his possession, no one had inspected Ethan’s bag, even though a school administrator had made a lighthearted remark about its weight.


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