Oxford High Shooting

Michigan Supreme Court rejected an appeal by James and Jennifer Crumbley, who face involuntary manslaughter charges after their son killed four in 2021

The parents of a 15-year-old who killed four students at a Michigan high school in 2021 will have to stand trial on involuntary manslaughter charges following a Michigan Supreme Court decision Tuesday, Oct. 3.

James and Jennifer Crumbley will be the first parents to stand trial for their alleged role in a school shooting. They are accused of purchasing the handgun their son Ethan used during the rampage, ignoring his mental health needs, and failing to tell the school they’d purchased a gun for their son during a meeting about his behavior hours before the shooting. (Ethan pleaded guilty to all the charges against him, including terrorism and murder, last year.) 

Lawyers for the Crumbleys, as well as the prosecution, could not return requests for comment as there is a gag order preventing both sides from addressing the case in public. 

The Crumbleys were originally charged in December 2021 and have spent the past two years in jail while attempting to get the charges dismissed. As the Detroit Free Press notes, it’s possible the Crumbleys could strike a plea deal, though that requires reaching an agreement with the prosecution, and getting approval from the judge.


In their efforts to get the charges dismissed, attorneys for the Crumbleys have argued their son’s actions were not reasonably foreseeable and that their alleged negligence had no bearing on Ethan’s decision to carry out the shooting. They’ve also tried to argue the initial district judge’s decision to charge the Crumbleys was “clearly erroneous” and sets a dangerous precedent for parents potentially being held responsible for the actions of their children.

While the prosecution has acknowledged their own case against the Crumbleys may be difficult, they have so far prevailed at every step. They’ve continually argued that the Crumbleys had the best chances to prevent the shooting had they paid more attention to their son’s needs and issues, and taken action sooner.