A couple is facing charges related to their 15-year-old son’s crimes. They are being tried for involuntary manslaughter in a groundbreaking trial that just concluded in Michigan.
The case raises a legal question: can a parent be held responsible for their child’s crimes? The mother pleaded not guilty, while her husband is set to appear in March.
Their son, Ethan, was tried as an adult in December and sentenced to life in prison without parole, the harshest possible punishment. The events leading to the trial began on November 26, 2021, when Ethan received a gun from his father as a Christmas gift.
He later went to a shooting range with his mother where disturbing messages were found on his phone. Despite this, the parents failed to take action or inform the school about Ethan’s possession of a firearm.
Later that day, Ethan carried out a shooting at the school. The parents were eventually arrested in Detroit.
During the trial, contrasting portraits were presented of Jennifer Crumbley, a 45-year-old marketing employee. The prosecution portrayed her as a negligent and selfish mother who showed more interest in her horses and her firefighter lover than in her son.
They argued that she disregarded Ethan’s mental health and provided him with access to a firearm. Her defense shifted the blame to her husband and the school for not addressing Ethan’s behavior.
Similar cases in recent years have seen prosecutors attempting to hold parents accountable for their children’s actions. However, the Crumbley case is distinct due to the serious charges of involuntary manslaughter, carrying a potential sentence of 15 years in prison.
It remains uncertain whether this case will set a precedent for future trials involving school shootings. The jurors have begun deliberations, and the verdict must be reached unanimously.
Defense attorney Dmitriy Shakhnevich believes that it is unlikely that such charges will become standard for school shootings in the future, citing the need for a direct link between the parents’ conduct and the child’s violent act.