Parents of accused Oxford shooter ask Michigan Supreme Court to dismiss their case

James, Jennifer Crumbley each face 4 counts of involuntary manslaughter over mass shooting

Jennifer and James Crumbley, the parents of Ethan Crumbley, a teenager accused of killing four students in a shooting at Oxford High School, appear in court for a preliminary examination on involuntary manslaughter charges in Rochester Hills, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The parents of the accused Oxford High School shooter are once again seeking to get the case against them thrown out, this time appealing to the Michigan Supreme Court.

The attorneys for James and Jennifer Crumbley have filed appeals with the state supreme court in an effort to strike down the charges against the parents in connection with the Nov. 30, 2021 mass shooting.

The Crumbleys are each facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter after four students were killed -- and seven other people were injured -- when their son allegedly opened fire during school hours. Prosecutors accuse the parents of gross negligence, saying they neglected their son and his deteriorating mental state and purchased a firearm for him, which he then used to terrorize the high school.

Defense attorneys for the Crumbley parents continue to argue that prosecutors cannot legally draw a connection between the parents and the involuntary manslaughter charges against them.

In court documents filed with the Michigan Supreme Court on Monday, the defense attorneys claim that James and Jennifer Crumbley can’t be held accountable because they were not “directly involved” in the mass shooting, and are not “responsible for the deaths of others.” The defense claims that the sole responsibility for the fatal mass shooting rests on their son Ethan Crumbley.

The attorneys also argue that information from Ethan Crumbley’s journals -- which highlight his mental state leading up to the shooting and his frustration toward his parents for allegedly ignoring his requests for help -- should not be admissible in court. Prosecutors have poured over the details in the suspected shooter’s journal, text messages and more, and have publicly shared much of that evidence during court hearings.

See: Counselor’s perspective, disturbing journal, ‘messy’ home: New evidence revealed in Oxford shooting case

The defense attorneys have already attempted to get the case against James and Jennifer Crumbley thrown out, and have been denied. After the Michigan Court of Appeals denied their request, the attorneys are now seeking a decision from the state’s highest court.

You can read the latest court documents in full down below.

Should the high court take some time to consider the request, defense attorneys are also asking that court proceedings in the trial court be paused until a decision is reached. James and Jennifer Crumbley are currently scheduled to go to trial in January 2023, after their trial was postponed in September by an Oakland County judge. Their trial was initially, but tentatively, scheduled to begin on Oct. 24.

FILE - This undated combo of photos provided by the Oakland County Sheriff's Office shows James Crumbley, left, and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of Ethan Crumbley, a teen accused of killing four students in a shooting at Oxford High School, in Michigan. The Crumbleys are scheduled to return to court on charges of involuntary manslaughter for a probable cause conference in Rochester Hills District Court Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021. (Oakland County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

The judge and prosecuting attorneys hoped to wrap up the trial before the holiday season, and before the anniversary of the fatal mass school shooting. Defense attorneys in June seemed to believe that the Oct. 24 trial date would not be achievable, but they did not officially request an adjournment at that time.

The trial of Ethan Crumbley, who is facing 24 felony charges as an adult despite being a minor, is also scheduled for January of next year. He is charged with the following:

  • One count of terrorism causing death;
  • Four counts of first-degree murder;
  • Seven counts of assault with intent to murder; and
  • 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Ethan Crumbley is expected to be called to the stand in his parents’ trial, according to his parents’ defense attorneys.

Opposite defense attorneys, Oakland County prosecutors have maintained that James and Jennifer Crumbley bear some responsibility for the deaths of 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 16-year-old Tate Myre, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and 17-year-old Justin Shilling. Prosecutors are trying to prove that the weapon used in the mass shooting was purchased by the Crumbley parents as a Christmas gift for their son, a then-15-year-old, who was present for the sale of the gun.

Prosecutors also argue that the parents willfully ignored the needs and well-being of their son and the threat he posed to others.

Read more: Were warning signs ignored? A deep dive into evidence against parents of accused Oxford High School shooter

The entire court documents filed on Oct. 10 can be found below.

More: Complete coverage on the Oxford High School shooting

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.