Michigan Supreme Court denies appeal from high school shooter’s parents | Courthouse News Service
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Michigan Supreme Court denies appeal from high school shooter’s parents

The couple have been in jail for almost two years as they contest the involuntary manslaughter charges against them. They now likely face trial, unless they can cut a deal with prosecutors.

DETROIT (CN) — The Michigan Supreme Court will not take up the case of the parents who face involuntary manslaughter charges relating to their son, who killed four students at Oxford High School in a deadly rampage when he was 15 years old. The case now goes back to circuit court, where they will likely face trial.  

In a one-page order that was comprised of a short paragraph, the state’s highest court wrote: “The application for leave to appeal … is denied, because we are not persuaded that the question presented should be reviewed by this court.”

Attorneys Mariell Lehman and Shannon Smith, who represent Jennifer and James Crumbley, have argued that the pair should not be held responsible for the actions of their son and asserted that they could not have known what the shooter was planning.

But prosecutors have countered in filings that the evidence proves the parents were criminally negligent when they bought the shooter a gun for Christmas and ignored his pleas when he told them he was hearing voices and suffering from mental health problems.

Prosecutors also accuse the parents of dismissing disturbing drawings and writings from the shooter that were discovered by teachers.  

In March, a state appeals court determined that the unprecedented involuntary manslaughter charges against the parents would stand.

In an order published in March 2023, Judge Christopher M. Murray wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel “that the defendants were actively involved in EC’s mental health state remaining untreated, that they provided him with the weapon used to kill the victims, and that they refused to remove him from the situation that led directly to the shootings.”

He added: "Despite their knowledge of all of these circumstances, when given the option to help EC and take him out of school, defendants did nothing."

Murray pointed to what he said were the parents' specific failures to act: not taking their son for medical help, not discussing his mental health issues or his access to a gun with the school, and not checking for the gun on the day of the shooting.

The first parents of a school shooter to be charged with a crime related to the shooting have remained in jail as they fight the charges, unable to post the $500,000 bond a judge set for each of them. Their attorneys filed appeals documents last year claiming their son bears complete responsibility.

During a hearing on March 7, Lehman tried to convince the three-judge panel that the prosecution failed to meet basic standards to charge them with a crime.

She said there were no concerns that the shooter would hurt anyone else and the prevailing thought at the time was that he might hurt himself.

“I will concede that these parents made tremendously bad decisions, but criminal trials are not based on bad decisions,” the attorney said.

The couple initially filed their appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, which ordered the Michigan Court of Appeals to rule on the case. The dispute centered on whether the parents had enough information about their son for the shooting to be predictable.

Seven victims survived the incident, while three students were pronounced dead the day of the shooting and a fourth victim died the next morning.

The shooter pleaded guilty in October 2022 to all 24 charges against him, including the first terrorism charges brought against a U.S. school shooting suspect.

The ruling comes just days after an Oakland County Circuit Court judge denied a chance for their son to receive parole when he is sentenced to jail. A recent hearing held to determine the shooter’s eligibility for parole brought heartbreaking testimony over the course of several days.

A sentencing hearing for the shooter is scheduled for Dec. 8.

Oxford, with a population of 3,586, is in central Oakland County, about 40 miles north of Detroit.

Categories / Appeals, Courts, Criminal

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