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Michigan parents of teen school shooter sentenced to at least 10 years for manslaughter

The mother and father of a Michigan teen who shot and killed four classmates were each sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison on Tuesday after a jury convicted them of manslaughter in a rare case of parents being held responsible in a school shooting.

School shooter Ethan Crumbley's parents were convicted in separate trials in unique case

A man and a woman in prison uniform are shown seated at a courtroom table, with two women in professional attire shown beside them.
From left, James Crumbley, defence lawyer Mariell Lehman, Jennifer Crumbley, and defence lawyer Shannon Smith await sentencing in Oakland County, Mich., court on Tuesday. The Crumbleys were convicted of involuntary manslaughter for a school shooting committed by their son in 2021. (Ed White/The Associated Press)

The mother and father of a Michigan teen who shot and killed four classmates were each sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison on Tuesday after a jury convicted them of manslaughter in a rare case of parents being held responsible in a school shooting.

Jennifer and James Crumbley, Ethan Crumbley's parents, were sentenced immediately after several family members of the victims gave emotional impact statements in an Oakland County courtroom.

"Not only did your son kill my daughter, but you both did as well," Nicole Beausoleil, the mother of Madisyn Baldwin, 17, told the court as she wept. James Crumbley sat impassively while his wife Jennifer hung her head.

The older sister of shooting casualty Hana St. Juliana said she looks for her "every place I go, and it's exhausting when I'm met with disappointment every time."

"It's all the people she would have met, I grieve for them, too, to have that chance for Hana being in your life taken away from you is a tragedy in an of itself," said Reina St. Juliana.

WATCH | Hear the emotional impact statement from Reina St. Juliana: 

She's my happy, she's my home': Sister of school shooting victim Hana St. Juliana describes her loss

1 month ago
Duration 1:00
Reina St. Juliana makes victim impact statement as the parents of teen son who killed four students are sentenced for manslaughter.

The parents of Tate Myre and Justin Shilling, each deceased, also spoke. Seven others were injured in the shooting.

Ethan Crumbley was 15 at the time of the shooting at Oxford High School in 2021. He pleaded guilty in 2022 to four counts of first-degree murder and other charges, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole in December.

Parents speak before sentencing

In remarks to the court before sentencing, Jennifer Crumbley, 46, said she expressed her "deepest sorrow" and said she had had no inkling her son was capable of killing.

"My husband and I used to say we have the perfect kid. I truly believed that," she said. "I didn't have a reason to do anything different. This is not something I foresaw."

"If there's anything the general public can take away from this, it's that this could happen to you, too.

"I will be in my own internal prison for the rest of my life," she said, naming her son's victims several times.

A young boy, a woman and a bearded man are shown in separate photos that have been combined. All three people appear to be wearing prison-type garb.
From left to right, Ethan Crumbley, Jennifer Crumbley and James Crumbley are shown soon after being taken into custody on Dec. 3, 2021. (Oakland County Sheriff's Office/Reuters)

Addressing the court, her 47-year-old husband said, "I am sorry for your loss as a result of what my son did. My heart pours out to every single one of you."

Prosecutors in the trials of both Jennifer and James Crumbley said the parents were criminally negligent for providing a gun for their child as a Christmas present, and for ignoring signs his mental health had deteriorated and that he was potentially violent.

The parents' defence teams argued, among other points, that it was impossible for the mother and the father to envision their son would carry out a mass shooting.

The United States, a country with persistent gun violence, has experienced a series of school shootings over the years, often carried out by current or former students.

Unique sentencing

There is little precedent for the criminal charges faced by the Crumbleys, who are the first parents known to be charged with manslaughter in a school shooting carried out by one of their children.

Experts and gun safety advocates have said their trials were an important step in holding gun-owning parents more accountable for school violence carried out by their children. Studies by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have shown that around 75 per cent of all school shooters obtained their weapons at home.

LISTEN | Father whose son was killed in the Michigan mass shooting talks to Nil Köksal: 
Jennifer Crumbley of Michigan has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after her teenage son opened fire at his high school in 2021 using the gun she had bought him. Craig Shilling’s son Justin was among the four people killed in the mass shooting. Craig spoke to As It Happens host Nil Köksal.

James Crumbley purchased the 9-mm semi-automatic handgun as a Christmas present for Ethan just four days before the Nov. 30, 2021, shooting.

On the morning of the rampage, both of Ethan's parents were summoned to their son's school after teachers discovered violent messages and drawings on his schoolwork, prosecutors said during the trials.

The Crumbleys were told Ethan needed immediate counselling. But prosecutors said the couple resisted taking the teen home that day, and didn't search his backpack or ask him about the gun they knew he could access.

Ethan Crumbley was returned to class. He later walked out of a bathroom with the gun and began firing, according to prosecutors.

WATCH | Parents of Michigan school shooter are headed to prison: 

Parents of Michigan school shooter sentenced to at least 10 years

1 month ago
Duration 2:38
The parents of Ethan Crumbley, who shot and killed four classmates at his Michigan high school, were each sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison. They are the first parents of a school shooter to be convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the United States.

With files from CBC News