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Crumbley parents charges 'absolutely warranted,' each could face 15 years, former US attorney says

Detroit US marshal details arrests of James and Jennifer Crumbley

Deputy Aaron Garcia, of the U.S. Marshals Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team, details arrests of parents of suspected Michigan school shooter.

A former Assistant United States Attorney told Fox News that the charges brought against Ethan Crumbley’s parents are “absolutely warranted” and that each one could each face 10-15 years in prison if convicted.

Former U.S. attorney Neama Rahmani said that while it’s “very rare” for prosecutors to charge the parents of a suspect in a school shooting, the prosecution has a strong case.

“What’s more dangerous than buying a gun for your kid and knowing that, you know, he’s making, you know, drawing these violent pictures and school officials are concerned and doing nothing about it. In my book, that’s certainly creating a situation where the risk of death was very high,” Rahmani said.

James and Jennifer Crumbley both pleaded not guilty to four counts of involuntary manslaughter after Ethan Crumbley, their son, was accused of killing four students at Oxford High school earlier this week during a school shooting.

James and Jennifer Crumbley (Oakland County Sheriff’s Office)
(Oakland County Sheriff’s Office)

Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said that James Crumbley bought the weapon found at the scene of the shooting at a local firearms store on Black Friday.

McDonald said during a press conference on Friday that the Sig Sauer 9mm handgun that James Crumbley purchased was held in an unlocked drawer in the parents bedroom.

Attorneys Mariell Lehman and Shannon Smith, who represent James and Jennifer Crumbley, however, deny that the gun was in an unlocked drawer.

The Crumbley parents were apprehended early Saturday morning by police officers after failing to appear for their arraignment Friday. 

Michael McCabe, undersheriff for the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, told Fox News that the office spoke with the Crumbley’s attorney on Friday at 4 p.m. to set up a place for the couple to turn themselves in, and did not get a response as of 6 p.m. that day.

Rahmani believes that based on what he has seen so far, the Crumbley parents will be convicted and could face a 10-15 year concurrent sentence in prison.

People attend a vigil downtown to honor those killed and wounded during the recent shooting at Oxford High School on December 03, 2021 in Oxford, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The former U.S. Attorney also said that if the Crumbleys were running from law enforcement on Friday night, it could strengthen the prosecution’s case against them: “Whenever a criminal defendant flees, prosecutors can introduce that flight and argue to the jurors that that shows a guilty mind or consciousness of guilt. So it’s helpful evidence for the manslaughter charges as well.” 

However, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley believes there will be “ample challenges” to the involuntary manslaughter charges. 

“There are ample challenges that can be made to the involuntary manslaughter charges. Absent some new evidence that the police were relying upon, as a general matter, parents are not criminally liable for the actions of their children in these types of cases,” Turley said.

This image from 52-1 District Court shows a Zoom arraignment for Jennifer and James Crumbley in Oakland Co., Mich., on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (52-1 District Court via AP)

Turley also said while he’s not surprised to see charges brought against the shooter at a fast pace, the charges brought against the parents are a different story.

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“I mean, it’s not surprising to see the charges against the shooter. The evidence there is abundantly clear. But the charges against the parents would require a considerable level of detail as to their knowledge and actions leading up to this shooting,” Turley said.

Audrey Conkln, Michael Ruiz, and Brie Stimson contributed to this report.

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