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The parents of a student who killed four students at a Michigan school have been given a minimum 10-year prison sentence for not taking actions that could have prevented the tragedy

The parents of a Michigan school shooter have each been sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for failing to take steps that could have prevented the killing of four students in 2021. Jennifer and James Crumbley are the

By ED WHITE (Associated Press)

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — A judge has sentenced the parents of a Michigan school shooter to at least 10 years in prison on Tuesday for not taking steps that could have stopped the killing of four students in 2021, which was described as a “runaway train.”

Jennifer and James Crumbley are the first parents to be found guilty in a U.S. mass school shooting. They were convicted of involuntary manslaughter after evidence was presented of an unsecured gun at home and their lack of concern for the teen’s mental health.

Ethan Crumbley drew disturbing pictures of a gun, a bullet, and a wounded man on a math assignment, along with hopeless phrases. Staff at Oxford High School did not insist that he go home but were surprised when the Crumbleys didn’t offer it during a brief meeting.

Later that day, on Nov. 30, 2021, the 15-year-old took out a handgun from his backpack and started shooting. Ethan, who is now 17, is serving a life sentence for murder and other crimes.

Judge Cheryl Matthews said, “These convictions are not about poor parenting. These convictions confirm repeated acts, or lack of acts, that could have stopped the impending disaster.

“They ignored things that would make a reasonable person feel alarmed,” the judge stated. “They missed multiple opportunities to prevent the tragedy. No one took action.”

The defense requested that the Crumbleys be spared a prison term, pointing out that they have already spent nearly 2 1/2 years in jail after failing to meet a $500,000 bond after their arrest.

The Crumbleys will be eligible for parole after serving 10 years in custody and will receive credit for the time spent in jail. If parole is denied, they can’t be held longer than 15 years.

Before the sentencing, family members of the deceased students asked for a 10-year term, condemning the parents as failures whose self-centeredness led to four deaths and a community tragedy.

“The blood of our children is on your hands, too,” said Craig Shilling, wearing a hoodie with the image of son Justin Shilling on his chest.

Nicole Beausoleil, the mother of Madisyn Baldwin, remembered simple things she did for her daughter, like scheduling an oil change for her car or helping choose senior year classes.

“While you were purchasing a gun for your son and leaving it unlocked, I was helping her finish her college essays,” Beausoleil told the Crumbleys.

Five deputies in the courtroom stood watch over the couple and more lined the walls.

Prosecutors said simple acts by both parents could have prevented the catastrophe.

“Consider the devastating impact of their gross negligence that was predictable,” prosecutor Karen McDonald told the judge.

She then quoted the grim handwritten lines on Ethan’s math paper: “Help me. Blood everywhere. The world is dead.”

“At the same time, a 9 millimeter (gun) had just been purchased for him and 50 rounds of ammunition,” McDonald said.

The couple had separate trials in Oakland County court, 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Detroit. Jurors saw the teen’s violent drawing on his school assignment and heard testimony about the crucial hours before the attack.

Ethan had informed a counselor that he was feeling sad because his grandmother had passed away and his only friend had moved away. However, he stated that the drawing he made was only showing his interest in creating video games.

The Crumbleys attended a brief school meeting, less than 15 minutes long, but did not mention that the gun resembled one James Crumbley had bought just four days earlier – a Sig Sauer 9 mm that Ethan had described on social media as his “beauty.”

Instead of taking him home, his parents opted to return to work and accepted a list of mental health providers. School staff suggested that Ethan could stay on campus, and a counselor, Shawn Hopkins, believed it would be safer for the boy than possibly being alone at home.

However, no one checked Ethan’s backpack, and he later took out the gun and killed four students – Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana, Shilling and Baldwin – and injured seven other people.

Before being sentenced, James Crumbley, 47, stood and insisted he did not know his son was deeply troubled.

He expressed his deep sadness for everyone involved and mentioned that he had cried for them and their children's loss countless times.

Jennifer Crumbley, 46, began her comments by expressing her profound sorrow about the shooting. She also mentioned that her statement at her trial about not doing anything differently was “completely misunderstood.”

Jennifer Crumbley stated, “My son seemed so normal. I didn’t have a reason to do anything different. With the benefit of hindsight and information I have now, my answer would be drastically different.”

She held the school responsible for not providing her with the “bigger picture” about Ethan, such as his habit of sleeping in class, watching a video of a mass shooting, and writing negative thoughts about his family.

Jennifer Crumbley stated, “The prosecution has attempted to portray us as the kind of parents that society believes could only produce a school or mass shooter. We were good parents. We were the average family.”

No specialists testified about Ethan’s state of mind during the trials. However, the judge allowed the jury to see excerpts from his journal, despite objections from the defense.

He wrote, “I have zero help for my mental problems and it’s causing me to shoot up the … school. I want help but my parents don’t listen to me so I can’t get any help.”

When asked about Ethan reporting hallucinations months before the shooting, Jennifer Crumbley told jurors he was simply “messing around.”

At the end of James Crumbley’s trial, the prosecutor showed how a cable lock, found in a package at home, could have secured the gun.

“Ten seconds,” McDonald said, “of the easiest, simplest thing.”

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Follow Ed White at X at https://twitter.com/edwritez

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