Father of Michigan school gunman convicted of manslaughter

Father of Michigan school gunman convicted of manslaughter
Father of Michigan school gunman convicted of manslaughter

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - WASHINGTON — The father of a Michigan school gunman who killed four students has been convicted of manslaughter.

The trial heard that James Crumbley, 47, had ignored his 15-year-old son's mental health needs, buying him the handgun he used in the November 2021 attack.

The jury deliberated for just over a day before coming to the verdict.

Jennifer Crumbley, his wife, is due to be sentenced next month after being convicted on the same charges.

James Crumbley was in court on Thursday evening for the verdict and appeared to show little reaction as it was read out.

The case against the Crumbleys marks the first time parents have been charged with manslaughter over their child's role in a shooting in the US.

Their son, Ethan, killed fellow students Tate Myre, 16; Hana St Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17. Seven people were also injured in the shooting.

He is serving a sentence of life in prison without parole.

Steve St Juliana, Hana's father, said on Thursday evening that the prosecution of the Crumbleys was "just the beginning steps" when it came to dealing with gun violence in the US.

"Our children are dying on a daily basis in mass murders and we do very little about this," he added.

"We can put people on the Moon, we can build skyscrapers, huge monuments like the Hoover Dam and we can't keep our kids safe in schools."

In February he told the BBC that "every day without [Hana] is a struggle".

"She was always laughing, always causing people to laugh," he recalled.

Prosecutor Karen McDonald, speaking at a press conference with parents of the four victims, said the verdict "does not bring back their children but it does mark a moment of accountability''.

"These parents [the Crumbleys] could have prevented this tragedy with just the smallest of efforts," she said.

Earlier this week in her closing arguments to the jury of six men and six women, Ms McDonald called the attack at the Oxford High School "preventable and foreseeable".

She added that James Crumbley's actions had been "rare and egregious".

He did not take even the slightest measures to ensure his son was not a threat after giving him a semi-automatic pistol as a gift, said the prosecutor.

Prosecutors also said the Crumbleys had not done enough to address their son's declining mental health.

On the morning of the shooting, the two parents cut short a school meeting about a disturbing drawing their son had made to go to work and had declined to take him home.

School officials sent him back to class without checking his backpack, which contained a gun.

When Crumbley heard about the shooting, he rushed home from his job as a DoorDash delivery driver, looking for the weapon, the trial heard.

Crumbley's defence lawyer, Mariell Lehman, argued that "James had no idea that his son was having a hard time".

Crumbley did not testify, unlike his wife, who took the stand during her trial and tried to blame her husband.

Jennifer Crumbley and her husband bought the 9mm Sig Sauer pistol their son used just days before the shooting.

Prosecutors said the Crumbleys had also failed to ensure the weapon was safely stored.

"Parents and gun owners have a responsibility to prevent children from accessing deadly weapons," said Nick Suplina, with the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, in a statement, adding the verdict "further underscores this critical duty of responsible gun ownership".

The Crumbleys were charged by police within days of the killings.

Initially, the parents were supposed to be tried together but in November sought separate trials.

Both are scheduled to be sentenced on 9 April. A count of manslaughter carries a penalty of up to 15 years. — BBC

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