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Attorneys predict more parents charged like Crumbleys after successful conviction

Posted at 5:19 PM, Feb 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-07 17:19:28-05

PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) — Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of the Oxford high school shooter, is set to face a judge in April and learn her punishment after a jury deemed her guilty of 4 counts of involuntary manslaughter.

While Crumbley is the first parent in the nation to be held criminally responsible for her child's involvement in a school shooting, she is not the first to face charges in connection to an improperly secured firearm.

In the city of Detroit last year, eight minors were involved in accidental shootings. Police say five of those children were injured in the self-inflicted shootings while three of them were killed.

At least one of those fatal cases resulted in the charging of the child's parents. In December, the Wayne County prosecutor announced involuntary manslaughter charges against the parents of a 5-year-old who accidentally shot and killed himself at an apartment on Greenfield Rd, between Grove St. and Puritan Ave.

"When you look at how young the child was, only 5 years old, that really puts on a heightened responsibility or duty on the parents to take care of that gun," said former federal prosecutor Mark Chutkow.

Chutkow says parents being charged in cases where minors got access to firearms are not necessarily common but they're also not unheard of. He says he believes the success of the Crumbley trial will have implications for future tragedies.

"Prosecutors are going to look much more closely at what the parents' role was and whether they had some sort of duty to safeguard not only their child but also the community at large," said Chutkow.

However, Chutkow says these kinds of charges will only come about in cases where the facts against the parents are extreme.

"The cries for help by the son, especially in that notebook that he had written at school, were not subtle. They were extreme. Parents should have known that when they sent a text message out to each other, they understood the gravity of the situation. They wrote 'EMERGENCY' and yet they said nothing about an emergency when they talked to school officials," added Chutkow.

Jennifer Crumbley is set to be sentenced in April. It's unclear if her husband's trial, James Crumbley, will have any impact on the punishment she faces.