A 15-year-old opened fire inside Oxford High School, killing four students and injuring seven others. He pleaded guilty to two dozen felony charges, including murder and terrorism.
Prosecutors arrested the parents of the gunman, James and Jennifer Crumbley, and accused them of giving their son easy access to a firearm and disregarding signs he was a threat.
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald charged the parents of the shooter with involuntary manslaughter, which is the first time a prosecutor has charged the parents of a school shooter.
However, the Michigan Supreme Court has since halted the trial of Jennifer and James Crumbley, who are accused of buying their son the gun.
James and Jennifer Crumbley are accused of ignoring their son’s mental health needs and making a gun accessible to him at home. Involuntary manslaughter charges suggest negligence to prevent the causation of death, which aligns with the accusations that they received.
Criminal defense attorney Art Weiss said that from the public’s perspective, there is little dispute about what happened: A teacher found troubling drawings by a student, the parents refused to take their son home, and their son killed students with the gun his parents bought him.
However, Weiss has questioned whether these actions truly indicate causation of the students’ deaths. He asked if the sequence of tragic events would be truly foreseeable prior to the shooting.
Legal analyst Paul Callan said the order postponing the trial is “highly unusual,” and suggests the judges have “serious concerns” that the parents’ roles “may not be adequate” to establish legal “causation”.
The detective investigating this case acknowledged there were no text messages between the parents and Ethan about concerns he would hurt anyone. There has been no evidence that they were aware of his plan to attack a school.