After Hearing From Distraught Family Members, Judge Gives Crumbley Parents 10 to 15 Years

April 09, 2024, 8:57 AM by  Allan Lengel


After hearing statements from emotionally wounded and angry family members of the victims, who advocated for the maximum penalty, an Oakland County Circuit Court judge in Pontiac on Tuesday sentenced Jennifer and James Crumbley, parents of mass shooter Ethan Crumbley, to 10 to 15 years in prison. 

The judge said they both will get credit for 858 days served in the Oakland County Jail.

Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Matthews, who presided over each parent's trial, issued her "deepest and most sincere condolences" to the families, and noted how the Crumbley parents were guilty of gross negligence and missed opportunities to intervene in their son's life before the 2021 mass shooting.

Oakland County Circuit Judge Cheryl Matthews

"The defendants' gross negligence has caused unimaginable suffering to hundreds of others as a result of what happened that day," Matthews said. "Each action or inaction created a ripple effect."

The sentence represents the first time any parents in the U.S. have been sent to prison for a school shooting. Ethan Crumbley murdered four classmates at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2021, and wounded seven others, including a teacher, during his rampage with a gun his parents had purchased for him as a Christmas gift.

Ethan, 17, is currently serving a life sentence without parole at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer.

Prosecutors had asked for a 10 to 15 year sentence. Lawyers for the Crumbleys wanted far less.  

Ethan Crumbley, 17, is at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer.

Both parents were convicted of four counts of involuntary manslaughter in separate trials in connection with the murders of students, Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17.

Families of all four victims were in court Tuesday morning: Steve and Reina St. Juliana; Craig Shilling; Buck and Sheri Myre; and Nicole Beausoleil, Madisyn's mom. Krystyna Baldwin, Baldwin's stepmom, also was in court.

They all attacked the parenting skills, or lack thereof, of the Crumbleys and their poor judgment for ignoring their son's cry for help. 

Mother Nicole Beausoleil

Nicole Beausoleil, mother of Madisyn, addressed the Crumbleys, saying:

"I want to compare a few things to see through my perspective...from the events on November 30th. While  your son was hearing voices and asking for help, I was helping Madisyn pick out her senior classes. While you were purchasing a gun for your son and leaving it unlocked, I was helping her finish her college essays... When you got a call to meet at the school about your son and how it interfered with your day, I was rearranging my schedule so I could take Madisyn to get her oil changed for the first time."

"You both took four beautiful children away from this world."

Jennifer Crumbley, sitting at the defense table, expressed remorse about the death and destruction her son caused. She also addressed her comment during trial in which she said that she would not have done anything differently.

She explained that her comment was in reference to her actions before the shooting, saying she thought she pretty much had a perfect son. 

"He was not the son I knew when I woke up on Nov. 30." She said in hindsight, she would have done a lot of things differently. To the victims and famliies, she said I "express my sincerest apologies."

She said she still loves here son and added: "I will be in my own internal prison the rest of my life."

James Crumbley stood and said, "I  can't imagine the pain and agony" the parents are going through.

Naming the murdered children, he said: "My heart is really broken for everybody inovlved. I understand my words aren't going to bring any comfort."

He said he has cried more times than he can count.

He asked the judge to sentence him in a fair and just way based on the truth, then requested he be sentenced to  time served and then probation.

He said he hasn't spoken to his son since Nov. 30, 2021 and his wife since they were arrested a few days later. 

He also agreed with a parent who spoke at the hearing and insisted that the whole truth about the case has yet to surface.

"We have been probitited from telling the whole truth. The whole truth has not been told. The truth has not been presented to you."

Both defense attorneys told the judge that their clients were unfairly demonized as uncaring people and parents, when in fact they did care about their son, what he did and about the victims and their families.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald argued that the parents had many missteps and ignored too many red flags. She asked the judge to consider the "devastating impact of their gross negligence."


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