Tuesday, April 16, 2024

School Shooter Ethan Crumbley’s Parents’ Lack of Remorse Stuns Prosecutors

HomeU.S.School Shooter Ethan Crumbley's Parents' Lack of Remorse Stuns Prosecutors

In a stunning move, Michigan prosecutors have urged a judge to impose severe prison sentences of 10 to 15 years on James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the Oxford High School shooter. The couple was convicted earlier this year on involuntary manslaughter charges related to the 2021 mass shooting carried out by their son Ethan.

The prosecution’s rare public release of excerpts from pre-sentencing reports paints a disturbing picture of two parents grappling with the horrific consequences of their negligence, yet appearing to show little genuine remorse or acceptance of responsibility.

“James Crumbley has repeatedly threatened Prosecuting Attorney Karen McDonald, stating there will be ‘retribution,'” the sentencing memo alleges. It further claims he has referred to himself as a “martyr” and blamed everyone but himself.

Perhaps most shockingly, the memo states that during his trial, “After he could no longer express his threats through jail calls because his privileges were revoked, he chose to gesture his middle finger toward the prosecution in the middle of the trial.”

As for Jennifer Crumbley, prosecutors say she testified under oath that she wouldn’t have done anything differently – a stance they call “a slap in the face” to the victims, their families, and the rule of law. The memo notes she later asked to serve her sentence under house arrest at her attorney’s home.

The Crumbleys’ seeming failure to accept responsibility or show authentic remorse stands in stark contrast to the unspeakable tragedy that unfolded on November 30, 2021 at Oxford High. Their son Ethan, then 15, opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol, killing four students and injuring seven others.

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The young victims who lost their lives were Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Justin Shilling, 17. They represented the bright futures horrifically extinguished that day through an act of staggering violence.

In the aftermath, prosecutors built a first-of-its-kind case against the Crumbleys, arguing they were criminally culpable through “gross negligence” as parents. Key evidence showed they purchased the gun used in the attack just days earlier as a Christmas present for Ethan, despite his troubled behavior and remarks about wanting to “shave down his shitty life.”

The prosecution further alleged that on the morning of the shooting, the Crumbleys were warned about Ethan’s disturbing drawings depicting violence, but they refused to take him home from school. Texts from Ethan to a friend that day revealed his own worries, saying: “I actually asked my dad to take (me) to the Doctor yesterday but he just gave me some pills and told me to ‘Suck it up.'”

“Like it’s at the point that I am asking to got [sic] the doctor. My mom laughed when I told her,” Ethan messaged.

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Despite these apparent cries for help, the Crumbleys are accused of failing to get their son urgently needed mental health treatment or properly secure the firearm they had given him access to. In convicting them, jurors agreed their actions represented a”wanton and reckless disregard” for human life.

In his pre-sentence report, James Crumbley wrote: “Ethan always appeared to be a very stable individual. Never did he voice anything to me that anything was bothering him.” He claimed to have properly secured the gun and followed gun safety protocols.

However, the prosecution cited evidence that he dismissed Ethan’s pleas for help in the tragic days before the shooting. “I followed the law and took gun safety to the point as needed,” James Crumbley maintained. “My gun was hidden in a location that, until I found out differently, only I knew of.”

As for Jennifer Crumbley, in her pre-sentence report she acknowledged that with hindsight, she would change many things, stating: “There are so many things that I would change if I could go back in time.” She said she knew Ethan as “a quiet, good kind, who loved his pets. I never imagined he would hurt other people in the way that he did.”

Yet prosecutors remain unconvinced by what they view as belated expressions of regret from parents who had countless opportunities to intervene before the preventable bloodshed occurred.

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“I have been in jail for over 26 months and have been locked down 23 hours per day,” Jennifer Crumbley wrote, asking for leniency to be sentenced to house arrest. “I am hopeful the Court will sentence me in a way that allows me to be released for the balance of my sentence.”

This request, along with James Crumbley’s alleged courtroom obscene gesture and perceived lack of accountability, seem to have cemented the prosecution’s view that the parents remain more focused on themselves than the shattered lives left in the wake of their negligence.

The Crumbleys’ sentencing on Tuesday will be among the final chapters in a deeply tragic case that has raised new legal questions about parental responsibility and failure to act in crisis situations. While nothing can undo the pain and loss, prosecutors hope the punishment sends a resounding message.

“Such a proposed sentence is a slap in the face to the severity of tragedy caused by defendant’s gross negligence,” the memo states, “the victims and their families, and the applicable law that is premised on the concept of proportionate sentencing.”

As Michigan and the nation await the Crumbleys’ fates, the searing memory of four bright young students gone too soon hangs heavy. Their grieving loved ones can only hope the case’s culmination provides them with some sense of justice and accountability.

Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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