(The Center Square) – Jennifer and James Crumbley will face a trial on four counts of involuntary manslaughter for their alleged role in the Oxford School shooting in which four students were gunned down by their son, Ethan.

The Michigan Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld District Court Judge Julie A. Nicholson’s ruling last month that a jury could find probable cause the parents could reasonably foresee their son’s violent actions against students and faculty Nov. 30, 2021.

In their opinion, Judges Christopher M. Murray, Michael J. Riordan and Christopher P. Yates concurred with Nicholson when she determined the parents’ behavior “increase[d] the foreseeable risk of a particular harm occurring through … a second actor.”

The judges prefaced their conclusion by stating: “Defendants’ actions and inactions were inexorably intertwined with EC’s actions, i.e., with the intervening cause. This connection exists not simply because of the parent-child relationship but also because of the facts showing that defendants were actively involved in EC’s mental state remaining untreated, that they provided him with the weapon used to kill the victims, and that they refused to remove him from the situation that led directly to the shootings.”

The judges concurred with Nicholson’s previous ruling that the Crumbleys were both “grossly negligent” or, in the case of purchasing a firearm for their emotionally disturbed son, performed “intentional acts” prior to the Oxford School shootings.

The judges wrote, “We simply hold that with these unique facts, and in this procedural posture and applicable standard of review, this case falls outside the general rule regarding intentional acts because EC’s acts were reasonably foreseeable, and that is the ultimate test that must be applied.

“Second, our decision is based solely on the record evidence, and the actions and inactions taken by defendants despite the uniquely troubling facts of which they were fully aware. And this point is important, as although the judiciary typically recognizes that a decision’s precedent is limited by the facts at issue, it is particularly true when the court expresses that limitation.”

In a separate concurring opinion, O’Riordan wrote, “EC was extraordinarily troubled, yet defendants nonetheless provided him with a handgun and, despite having discrete, disturbing evidence that EC contemplated harming others, did nothing when confronted with that evidence.”

O’Riordan bolstered his opinion by stating, “The difference between this case and the typical case in which a child commits a crime with a potentially dangerous mechanism, however, is that EC was not merely a troubled child with obvious mental-health problems. Instead, the morning of the shooting, EC drew a picture of a body that appeared to have two bullet holes in the torso, apparently with blood streaming out of them, which was near another drawing of a handgun that resembled the gun his parents, defendants James Crumbley and Jennifer Crumbley, had very recently gifted to him. The body in the drawing obviously could not have inflicted such wounds upon itself, so the logical inference is that the body was shot by another. Thus, this drawing suggests that EC not only was potentially suicidal, as school counselor Shawn Hopkins believed at the time, but also that he presented a danger to others with his handgun. In other words, there was visual evidence, known by defendants, that EC was contemplating the act of gunshot wounds being inflicted upon someone.”


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