Jury picked in trial of 2nd parent charged in Michigan school shooting

James Crumbley enters the courtroom during his motion hearing at Oakland County Courthouse, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich. (Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News via AP, Pool)

James Crumbley enters the courtroom during his motion hearing at Oakland County Courthouse, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich. (Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News via AP, Pool)

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — A jury was seated Wednesday in the trial of a man whose teenage son killed four students at a Michigan high school with a gun purchased by the father four days before the shooting.

The selection process in the high-profile case lasted less than two days, despite concerns that extensive publicity about the Oxford High School shooting and two related convictions would make it even harder to find jurors who could be open-minded.

“You’re going to see some things that upset you,” Oakland County Judge Cheryl Matthews told the jury pool Tuesday, referring to a video of the 2021 shooting that will be part of the evidence.

“There are Kleenex everywhere. … We’re asking a lot of you,” she said.

James Crumbley, 47, is charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each teenager killed by his son, Ethan Crumbley. Opening statements and the first batch of witnesses will come Thursday.

He is accused of failing to safely store a gun and ammunition at home and ignoring the mental health of his son, who was 15 at the time of the shooting.

James Crumbley, accompanied by Ethan, purchased a Sig Sauer 9 mm handgun over Thanksgiving weekend in 2021. The boy called it his “new beauty” on social media. His mother described the gun as a Christmas gift and took him to a shooting range.

The mother, Jennifer Crumbley, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in February during her own trial. The Crumbleys are the first U.S. parents to be charged with having criminal responsibility in a mass school shooting committed by a child.

On the day of the shooting, Nov. 30, 2021, the parents went to Oxford High to discuss a violent image their son had drawn on his math assignment, which was accompanied by disturbing phrases: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” There was a gun on the paper that looked similar to the Sig Sauer.

The Crumbleys didn’t take Ethan home, and school staff — believing he might be suicidal — also didn’t demand it. But no one checked the boy’s backpack for a gun, and the shooting happened that afternoon.

Defense lawyers insist the parents could not have foreseen the shooting and didn’t commit a crime. One man was scratched from the jury pool when he said the charges were an “injustice” and a response to a “mob.”

Another man was excused after saying it would be hard to be fair to James Crumbley. He said the case was a “long overdue necessity” to reduce gun violence by kids.

Defense attorney Mariell Lehman repeatedly asked questions to try to learn how prospective jurors viewed the maturity of teenagers and their own parenting styles.

“Raise your hand if you think you are a perfect parent,” Lehman said. “Raise your hand if, as a parent, you’ve never made a mistake.”

Ethan, now 17, is serving a life prison sentence for murder and terrorism.

Jennifer Crumbley, 45, is scheduled to return to court for her sentence on April 9. Her minimum prison term could be as high as 10 years.

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Follow Ed White on X, formerly Twitter: @edwritez

AP U.S. News

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