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School Closing Information

Appellate court to hear arguments over whether to move forward with charges against Crumbleys

Oxford High School
Emily Elconin
/
Getty Images
Oxford High School

The Michigan Court of Appeals will hear arguments today over whether the parents of a former Oxford High School student who killed four classmates should stand trial.

The parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, face involuntary manslaughter charges.

The Crumbleys purchased the gun their son used in the 2021 shooting. The prosecution argues they chose not to take their son home from school the day of the shooting, even after staff found “disturbing drawings” on his math work.

The “defendant’s gross negligence gave her son access to the murder weapon and allowed him to remain in school with that murder weapon,” the prosecution argued in a brief.

But the Crumbleys' attorneys argue the case should be dismissed since their son was the one who planned and carried out the shooting.

“[O]ne is not guilty of manslaughter where one’s acts only create a situation which provides the opportunity for killing by other independent means,” separate briefs for both parents read.

The defense attorneys go on to make the case their clients’ son was solely responsible for his actions, citing the fact that he was charged as an adult.

The motion to quash, which would nullify the involuntary manslaughter charges, has already failed at the trial court level. At the Court of Appeals, the case could have implications that stretch beyond this case.

Mike Nichols is part of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan. He called the reasoning used to pursue the charges a “novel theory.”

“I think that’s why the Court of Appeals decided to even hear it. It’s unusual because the prosecutor is charging the parents in the conduct of the son,” Nichols said.

He said he’s curious to see how the judges react to the argument and how their decision could impact parental accountability in the state.

Potentially, “if you don’t monitor your child and your child does something bad and somebody gets hurt or killed, you will be criminally responsible depending on the facts and circumstances, and that’s just not something that we’ve really had a lot of in our justice system absent some sort of statutory requirement,” Nichols said.

Todday’s oral arguments are scheduled for 10 a.m. A livestream will be available on the court’s YouTube page.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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