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Defense rests in manslaughter trial for mother of Michigan school shooter

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LA Post: Defense rests in manslaughter trial for mother of Michigan school shooter
Reuters
Reuters
February 02, 2024

(Reuters) - The mother of a Michigan boy who shot dead four high-school classmates in 2021 finished testifying in her own defense on Friday ahead of closing arguments in a novel trial to determine whether parents of a school shooter are liable for manslaughter.

Jennifer Crumbley, 45, has testified that she was not responsible for buying or storing the gun used in the killings.

Her trial is believed to be the first to attempt to find a parent of a school shooter criminally responsible. She and her husband, James Crumbley, are each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, with prosecutors saying the parents were negligent in failing to secure the gun their son, Ethan, used in the shooting.

The husband, who bought a 9mm handgun for his son a few days before the shooting at Oxford High School near Detroit, faces a separate trial due to begin in March.

Jennifer Crumbley returned to the stand on Friday morning for cross examination by a prosecutor, who questioned her about Facebook chat messages in which she appeared to complain about her husband's trustworthiness.

"You didn't trust him to get out of bed on time?" Marc Keast, an Oakland County prosecutor, asked Crumbley.

"Correct," she replied. She also agreed that she did not trust him to do a good job of cutting the grass or turning on their home's security camera.

"But this is the person you entrusted with a deadly weapon?" Keast asked.

"I did," Crumbley replied. The defense rested its case after Crumbley left the stand.

Ethan Crumbley, who was 15 at the time of the shooting on Nov. 30, 2021, pleaded guilty in 2022 to two dozen counts, including four of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole in December.

Prosecutors have accused his parents of knowing their son's mental health was in a "downward spiral" and posed a danger to others, yet allowed him to have access to firearms, including the handgun he used to kill classmates. In Michigan, children under 18 are allowed to have a gun only when hunting or doing target-practice at a shooting range with adults, and other limited circumstances.

On Thursday, Jennifer Crumbley testified that it was her husband who was responsible for securely storing guns in their home. He kept the 9mm handgun in its case secured with a cable lock, and hid the key inside one of several decorative beer steins inside the family home, she testified.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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