DETROIT (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal that cleared the way for the parents of a teenager who fatally shot four students at Oxford High School to stand trial on involuntary manslaughter charges.
James and Jennifer Crumbley are accused of giving Ethan Crumbley access to a gun and ignoring his mental health needs. The The state appeals court announced this in March that the couple could face trial, and the Supreme Court let that decision stand in a single sentence.
Prosecutors in suburban Detroit only had to show there was probable cause to put the parents on trial, a low threshold at this stage. The appeals court noted that an Oakland County jury will hear a larger case from all sides.
The shooter killed Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana and Justin Shilling at Oxford High, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) north of Detroit, in November 2021. Six students and a teacher were also injured.
Ethan Crumbley pleaded guilty of terrorism and murder. That’s what a judge said last week He faces a sentence of life in prison without parole.
Parents’ lawyers insist the school shooting was unforeseeable. They acknowledge that while poor decisions were made, they were not ones that should result in involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
The teen and his parents met with school staff the day of the shooting after a teacher noticed violent drawings, but no one checked his backpack for a weapon. He was allowed to stay.
The 17-year-old, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, will be sentenced Dec. 8. The judge has the option of giving him a prison sentence that would make him eligible for parole in the coming decades.
The Crumbley parents have been in custody since shortly after the shooting and cannot afford $500,000 bail. Their son is in the same prison, although they have no contact with him.
Defense attorneys declined to comment on the Supreme Court order, citing a gag order.
Colin King, a psychologist who met with the teenager, described him as a “wild child” who was neglected by his parents. Judge Kwamé Rowe said his home life was “not ideal” as his parents often drank alcohol and argued, but “not terrible”.
The teen “appears to have a loving and supportive family,” Rowe said Friday. “He went on holiday with the family, had several pets and had family visits. … In the defendant’s own words, his childhood was ‘good’.”