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Mich. school shooter’s parents sentenced to 10 years in prison for not stopping a ‘runaway train’

After hearing statements from the relatives of the students killed in the attack, the judge sentenced in excess of the recommended sentencing guidelines


Photographs of four students —Hana St. Juliana, 14, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Tate Myre, 16 and Justin Shilling, 17 — sit among boquets of flowers, teddy bears and other personal items left at the memorial site on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021 outside Oxford High School after a 15-year-old allegedly killed these four classmates, and injured seven others in a shooting inside the northern Oakland County school one week ago. (Jake May |

Jake May/TNS

By Gus Burns

PONTIAC, Mich. — One by one, the teary-eyed or angry parents — mothers, fathers, siblings — approached the podium to share their loss.

They scolded the parents whose son committed the murders that forever changed their lives and shared memories of the ones they lost.

“She was the best thing to happen to me,” said Nicole Beausoleil, the mother of 17-year-old victim Madisyn Baldwin. “I grew up because of her. We grew together. I learned from her. I mattered because of her ...

“When you texted, ‘Ethan, don’t do it,’ I was texting Madisyn, ‘I love you, please call mom’ ... Not only did your son kill my daughter, but you did as well ... You failed as parents.”

Oakland County Circuit Judge Cheryl A. Matthews on Tuesday, April 9, sentenced 46-year-old Jennifer Crumbley and James Crumbley, 47, to a minimum of 10 years in prison. They were convicted in separate jury trials of four counts each of involuntary manslaughter, a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“These convictions are not about poor parenting,” Matthews said. These convictions “are about repeated acts or lack of acts that could have halted an oncoming runaway train.”

Matthews said James Crumbley allowed his son “unfettered access” to guns and ammunition and called Jennifer Crumbley’s behavior “dispassionate and apathetic.”

The Crumbleys’ will be credited for 858 days, nearly two years and five months, they’ve remained in jail awaiting trial.

For the first time in U.S. history, the parents of a school shooter are being held criminally responsible for their role in the crimes of their child.

The parents of Michigan school shooter Ethan Crumbley, who killed four classmates at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2021, will now be transferred to Michigan prisons to complete their sentences.

Both parents spoke prior being sentenced.

“I’ve taken countless nights to lament over the anguish and shame I carry ... ” said Jennifer Crumbley, who added that she’s found God while awaiting trial. “I know we did our best. The love that I have for our son is mixed with regret for not seeing what was ahead weighs heavily on me.

“This could be any parent up here in my shoes.”

James Crumbley, who was accused of making violent threats against the Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald in pretrial jailhouse phone calls, removed his glasses before speaking and looked at the families.

“My heart is really broken for everybody involved ... ” he said. “I know your pain and loss will never go away. Part of you will be missing forever ...

“I am sorry for your loss as a result of what my son did.”

The Crumbleys denied knowing their son’s plan or that he had access to the gun.

Judge Matthews hasn’t determined if she will issue a no-contact order banning the parents and their now-17-year-old son from communicating while serving their sentences. Ethan Crumbley is serving a mandatory life sentence and is currently houses at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer.

Sitting at the same defense table, Jennifer Crumbley appeared for sentencing in a black-and-white striped jail uniform, wearing glasses with her graying hair in a ponytail and loose bangs dangling to the sides of her face. James Crumbley, who has difficulty hearing, wore headphones in an orange jail uniform and glasses.

They looked toward the front of the courtroom or down at the defense table as victims shared their memories and requests for a maximum prison sentence.

Shilling’s mother, Jill Soave, spoke about how her son spent “his final moments protecting a fellow student,” a freshman who hid in the bathroom with Shilling before Shilling was executed and the freshman escaped to safety.

“If only they had taken their son to counseling instead of buying him a gun,” the mother said. “If only they had secured it, if only they had spoken up that day at the counseling office, if only they had checked his backpack, if only they had taken him home instead of abandoning him at that school, I wouldn’t be standing here today.”

If alive, Soave said her son would have been celebrating his 20th birthday this month.

Both James and Jennifer Crumbley were seen shaking their heads when they were convicted by juries recently. Soave called it “the most disrespectful thing I have ever witnessed.”

“At that moment, you felt your life was more valuable than my daughter’s,” Soave said.

Prosecutors accused the parents of failing to adequately secure the gun used in the school shooting and ignoring signs of their son’s possible mental illness and depression.

James Crumbley purchased the eventual murder weapon for his then-15-year-old son as an early Christmas gift four days prior to the shooting that killed students Baldwin; Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Justin Shilling, 17.

The parents met with school officials for an emergency meeting the morning of the shooting, after a teacher found concerning statements and violent imagery, including of a gun and bleeding victims, drawn on a geometry test. The teen’s counselor testified he worried the teen might be suicidal but didn’t suspect he was planning violence.

The parents declined to remove their son from school and he was returned to class with his backpack that contained the gun.

Hana St. Juliana’s sister Reina St. Juliana told the Crumbleys it was their duty to show their son love and compassion.

“Instead, you give your son a gun,” she said.

The teen’s father, Steve St. Juliana, said the parents have and continue to “blame everyone but themselves.”

“I think of all the good times that we’ve shared together as a family and all the memories that will never be ...” he said. “I will never walk her down the aisle as she begins the journey of starting her own family and I’m forever denied the the chance to hold her future children in my arms.”

Tate Myre’s father, Buck Myre, said he wouldn’t waste his time speaking about the Crumbley family.

“It’s time to turn our focus to Oxford schools that played a role in this tragedy,” he said. Buck Myre called for a thorough investigation of the law enforcement’s “horrible” response to the shooting.”

Six people gave in-person victim statements. More than a dozen submitted letters.

The judge sentenced in excess of the recommended sentencing guidelines.

“The impact statements given here and the written statement provided to the court describe the cataclysmic impact the deaths of these children have had ... “Matthews said. “The advisory sentencing guidelines ... do not take into account the complete lack of insight both defendants have for their behavior to this very day ...

In addition to the four dead and seven injured, “the defendants’ gross negligence has caused unimaginable suffering to hundreds of others, as a result of what happened that day.”

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