(From left) James Crumbley, his attorney Mariell Lehman, Jennifer Crumbley, and her attorney Shannon Smith, sit in court for sentencing on four counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of four Oxford High School students who were shot and killed by the Crumbley parents' son, on April 9, 2024 at Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac, Michigan. Image Credit: AFP

Washington: The mother of a Michigan teen who shot and killed four classmates were each sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison on Tuesday after a jury convicted them of manslaughter in a first case of parents being held responsible in a school shooting.

Jennifer Crumbley, 46, and her husband James, 47, were the first parents of a school shooter convicted of manslaughter charges in the United States for the actions of their child Ethan Crumbley.

They were sentenced immediately after several parents of the victims gave emotional impact statements in an Oakland County courtroom.

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“Not only did your son kill my daughter, but you both did as well,” Nicole Beausoleil, the mother of Madisyn Baldwin, 17, told the court as she wept.

James Crumbley sat impassively while his wife Jennifer hung her head.

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Ethan Crumbley was 15 at the time of the shooting at Oxford High School in 2021. He pleaded guilty in 2022 to four counts of first-degree murder and other charges, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole in December.

In remarks to the court before sentencing, Jennifer Crumbley, 46, said she expressed her “deepest sorrow” and said she had had no inkling her son was capable of killing.

“My husband and I used to say we have the perfect kid. I truly believed that,” she said. “I didn’t have a reason to do anything different. This is not something I foresaw.” “If there’s anything the general public can take away from this, it’s that this could happen to you, too.

“I will be in my own internal prison for the rest of my life,” Jennifer Crumbley said, naming her son’s victims several times.

Addressing the court, her 47-year-old husband said, “I am sorry for your loss as a result of what my son did. My heart pours out to every single one of you.”

Persistent gun violence

Prosecutors in the trials of both Jennifer Crumbley and James Crumbley said the parents were criminally negligent for providing a gun for their child as a Christmas present and for ignoring signs his mental health had deteriorated and that he was potentially violent.

The parents’ defense teams argued, among other points, that it was impossible for the mother and the father to envision their son would carry out a mass shooting.

The United States, a country with persistent gun violence, has experienced a series of school shootings over the years, often carried out by current or former students.

There is little precedent for the criminal charges faced by the Crumbleys, who are the first parents known to be charged with manslaughter in a school shooting carried out by one of their children.

Experts and gun safety advocates have said their trials were an important step in holding gun-owning parents more accountable for school violence carried out by their children. Studies by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have shown that around 75% of all school shooters obtained their weapons at home.

James Crumbley purchased the 9mm semi-automatic handgun as a Christmas present for Ethan just four days before the Nov. 30, 2021, shooting.

On the morning of the rampage, both of Ethan’s parents were summoned to their son’s school after teachers discovered violent messages and drawings on his schoolwork, prosecutors said during the trials.

The Crumbleys were told Ethan needed immediate counseling.

But prosecutors said the couple resisted, taking the teen home that day, and didn’t search his backpack or ask him about the gun they knew he could access.

Ethan Crumbley was returned to class. He later walked out of a bathroom with the gun and began firing, according to prosecutors.