PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) — Jennifer Crumbley has taken the stand in her own defense as the first witness called to rebut the case prosecutors have put on in her involuntary manslaughter trial.
Crumbley's testimony began Thursday afternoon after the prosecution rested their case. Her testimony is ongoing and lasted more than two hours before there was a break.
So far, defense questions have focused on rebutting the prosecution's arguments that Jennifer Crumbley was not focused on her son. She has testified that they played games as a family and would spend time together. The testimony included pictures from Facebook that show family vacations, which often include an unidentified friend of Jennifer's son.
Crumbley also testified about an affair she had with a friend she knew from the horse community, which she says lasted for about six months. Jennifer testified she had known the man since high school.
Crumbley also said the only discipline problems they had with her son was over missed assignments in school, which caused him to get bad grades. She said that as a result of these, they would punish him by taking away his phone and his video games.
Jennifer Crumbley also addressed the gun that was purchased for her son as a Christmas present, saying it was purchased by her husband at a time when she was not present. Crumbley says it was purchased on Black Friday when her son and James went to the store without her as she was doing her own regular Black Friday shopping.
She testified that despite guns not really being her "thing," she and the shooter went to the gun range together because he asked her if she wanted to go. She testified it was the first time they had gone alone.
Jennifer also testified James Crumbley had unlocked the gun and placed it into the back of her car for the trip to the gun range as she did not know where either it or the key were stored in the house.
Crumbley said James would hide it in various places in their room and then store the key for the cable lock in one of the beer steins that the couple had throughout the house. She also testified that she did not know which beer stein the key would be in, and that she was not sure if the shooter knew either.
Crumbley testified that after the visit to the shooting range, she brought the bullet back into the house but left the gun in her car. She said James brought it into the house and hid it later that day.
The defense then addressed test messages that the prosecution has said were showing the shooter was exhibiting mental problems. These texts included references to the house being haunted. Jennifer testified that they seemed to her like her son was messing with her and joking around. She also testified that she was not aware of texts her son had sent to a friend saying he was asking his parents for help, as she did not go through his phone. Jennifer also testified that her son did not approach her to ask to see a doctor.
She also testified that the friend, whom she described as the only one of her son's friends who would come over to their house and someone they had taken on family trips, had suddenly been sent to an OCD treatment facility in Wisconsin right before the shootings.
The testimony then moved onto the day of the school shooting at Oxford and how Jennifer and James had been called to the school for a meeting, which was sparked by drawings on a geometry assignment. Jennifer testified that she felt the drawings were a message to her because they had argued the night before about an E he was getting in geometry. This led to them taking away his phone and telling him that he couldn't go to the shooting range until his grades went back up.
Jennifer testified she was a little concerned when she saw the original of the drawing. She said she tried to get in contact with James to go to the school because he was working in the area but headed there when she couldn't reach him. While on her way, he called her back and they both decided to go to the school together. She also testified about the meeting at the school, saying she did not feel she was taking a position where she was saying she would leave her son at the school and that "there was never a time where I would refuse” to take him home.
She also said that the school gave them a list of counselors and that as they were leaving, she told James to start making calls. At the end of the meeting, she said she went back to work, James went back to working at DoorDash, and her son went back to class. She said she did not think it was an abrupt end to the meeting, just that it had concluded by itself based on what was being said.
After a short break, Crumbley testified about how she found out about the shootings, saying she was at work when she heard. She said that she then headed towards the school, and while on the way James called and told her the gun was missing. Jennifer testified that after that, she sent a text to her son saying "Don't do it".
Jennifer testified that when she sent the text, she did not believe her son had killed or even shot anyone. She thought he had taken the gun and was going to turn it on himself.
She then testified that she went to the sheriff's substation because police had asked her and her husband to come there because their son was in custody. She then addressed how she was seen on video using her phone, saying she was trying to bring up the drawing that had been the focus of the earlier meeting at the school, and that she was responding to messages that family and friends were sending her asking how her son was because they had heard about the shootings at his school.
Defense questioning then turned to the period between the visit to the substation and the time they were arrested at the art studio in Detroit. Crumbley testified that they stayed at a hotel in Lapeer for a day, then at an extended stay hotel in Auburn Hills for two days, before heading to the art studio at the invitation of a friend. She said that's where they were arrested before they could turn themselves in in court in Novi the next day.
Jennifer Crumbley will be back on the stand for cross-examination by the prosecution on Friday.