Parents of US school shooter sentenced to 10-15 years in prison

Parents of US school shooter sentenced to 10-15 years in prison
Parents of US school shooter sentenced to 10-15 years in prison

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - (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, at Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac, Michigan April 9, 2024. — Picture by Bill Pugliano/ Getty Images via AFP

WASHINGTON, April 10 — The parents of a teenager who carried out a deadly school shooting in the US state of Michigan were sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison on Tuesday in an unprecedented and closely watched case.

Jennifer Crumbley and her husband James — who bought their son the gun as a Christmas present — were the first parents of a school shooter to be convicted of manslaughter in the United States for the actions of their child.

Oakland County Judge Cheryl Matthews sentenced them to 10 to 15 years in prison each with credit for the 28 months they have already spent behind bars.

Their son Ethan, who is now 17, is serving a life sentence for the November 30, 2021 shooting which left four students dead and seven other people injured at Oxford High School, 45 miles (70 kilometres) north of Detroit.

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“These convictions are not about poor parenting,” Matthews said at an emotional hearing in Pontiac, Michigan, attended by relatives of the victims. “These convictions confirm repeated acts, or lack of acts, that could have halted an oncoming runaway train.”

The judge admonished James Crumbley for allowing “unfettered access” to guns and ammunition in the family home and told Jennifer Crumbley her attitude towards her son was “dispassionate and apathetic.”

Addressing the Crumbleys in court before sentencing, Nicole Beausoleil, the mother of Madisyn Baldwin, 17, one of the slain students, said: “Not only did your son kill my daughter but you both did as well.”

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“The blood of our children is on your hands,” said Craig Shilling, the father of Justin Shilling, 17.

Steve St. Juliana, the father of another victim, Hana St. Juliana, 14, said her murder “has destroyed a large portion of my very soul.”

“I will never walk her down the aisle,” St. Juliana said. “I am forever denied the chance to hold her or her future children in my arms.”

Multiple warning signs

Before the judge pronounced the sentence, the Crumbleys addressed the families of the victims and the court.

“I stand today not to ask for your forgiveness as I know it may be beyond reach but to express my sincerest apologies for the pain that has been caused,” Jennifer Crumbley, 46, said. “I will be in my own internal prison for the rest of my life.”

James Crumbley, 47, told the families he was “sorry for your loss as a result of what my son did.”

“I cannot express how much I wish that I had known what was going on with him or what was going to happen, because I absolutely would have done a lot of things differently,” he said.

During separate trials, the Crumbleys were accused of ignoring warnings that their son had mental health struggles.

Jennifer Crumbley said her husband bought their son the 9mm SIG Sauer handgun he used in the attack just days earlier as an early Christmas present.

She took the boy to a shooting range the day after the purchase.

The Crumbleys were summoned to the school on the day of the shooting itself after a teacher became alarmed by a violent drawing she found on Ethan’s desk.

They were shown the drawing and advised they needed to get the boy into counseling. The parents allegedly resisted taking their son home and he returned to class.

He later entered a bathroom, emerged with the gun which had been concealed in his backpack and fired more than 30 shots.

Amid a huge number of deadly firearms incidents involving young people in the United States, pressure has been mounting to punish parents who make it possible for their children to get weapons.

The father of an Illinois man accused of killing seven people in July 2022 pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of “reckless conduct” for helping his son obtain the rifle used in the mass shooting.

A Virginia woman whose six-year-old son shot and severely wounded his teacher was recently sentenced to two years in prison for felony child neglect. She received an additional 21 months in prison after pleading guilty to illegally obtaining the firearm. — AFP

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