Unraveling Responsibility at Oxford High: Parenting, Guns, and School Shootings

A US jury found the mother of a 15-year-old murderer criminally responsible for the deaths of four high school students in 2021

by Sededin Dedovic
Unraveling Responsibility at Oxford High: Parenting, Guns, and School Shootings
© Pool / Getty Images

A US jury has found the mother of a 15-year-old murderer criminally responsible for the deaths of four high school students. This ruling could have far-reaching implications, writes the BBC. Almost every day, Steve and Ai St.

Julian wear the same sweatshirt, which has a white flower on it. The five petals of the flower represent family members, with Hana's name written in Japanese in the middle. Hannah was the youngest of four students killed at Oxford High School in 2021 when 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley opened fire.

Tate Myr (16) and Madisyn Baldwin and Justin Schilling (both 17) were also killed in the attack. The case upset the public, and it is certainly the hardest for the parents. Seven others, including a teacher, were wounded. One teacher and one student were seriously wounded, but eventually managed to recover.

The school shooting, the worst in state history, rocked Oxford Township, a suburb of 22,000 people north of Detroit. They saw that there were such cases on TV, but no one could even imagine that such an accident would happen in a suburb that is otherwise very peaceful.

"She was always smiling, always making people laugh," Hannah's father, Steve St Julian, told the BBC at their family home in Ortonville, Michigan. His speech and reaction show that he still hasn't completely gotten over his loss.

"Every day without her is really a new struggle. She was the heart and soul of the family". In December, more than two years after the shooting, a judge sentenced killer Ethan Crumbly to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the maximum sentence.

The father and other victims were satisfied with the verdict at the time, but it cannot diminish the pain of losing their loved ones. His mother, Jennifer Crumbley, was found guilty of manslaughter yesterday, the first time a parent has been convicted for their child's role in a mass shooting.

These kinds of judgments are not common, although after similar disasters it has been requested several times that parents bear responsibility for their underage son.

Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of Oxford, Michigan high school shooter Ethan Crumbley, enters the court to hear the verdict just © Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

The case raised questions about who else can be held accountable for a mass shooting when a child pulls the trigger.

The Crumbleys had given the child the weapon he used just days before the attack, and also tried to flee after being charged with manslaughter. This led to a lawsuit that eventually resulted in a verdict that Jennifer's mother was guilty.

The boy's father, James Crumbley, will face a separate trial in March on the same charges. Each manslaughter is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Given that the mother was convicted, we would not be surprised if he was also blamed.

Caitlin Kavanagh, an associate professor at Michigan State's School of Criminal Justice, said popular culture portrays parents as primarily responsible for children's delinquency, but said a variety of factors can lead someone to grow up to be violent.

The school also faces criticism that it could have prevented the tragedy. The lawsuit against the school was filed solely for liability because the crime occurred at that location. Several teachers and school administrators have also been charged.

A troubled past

Before the shooting in Oxford, Kayla LeMieuk didn't think about Ethan Crumbley because he was a nine-year-old boy who lived across the street from her in Lake Orion, Michigan. A very quiet and mysterious boy, although Mrs.

Kajla herself said that he was manipulative. LeMieuk worked with Ethan's mother, Jennifer, at the restaurant in 2015 and was close to the Crumbles after they moved to a nearby apartment in Lake Orion before settling in Oxford.

She said that Mr and Mrs Crumble often left Ethan alone at home in the evenings while they went into town drinking. During this time, Ethan would sometimes come over to her house. "He was very monotonous, very distant, manipulative.

He lied a lot,” Ms. LeMieuk said. She remembered one moment when she watched him remove a bird's nest from a tree and then step on it. She already knew then that something was wrong with the child. I found his behavior disturbing.

My partner and I would say, "He's going to kill somebody one day." She claims that their entire neighborhood knew about the child's strange behavior. Ethan Crumley's lawyers painted a similar picture of the boy's childhood in court, calling a psychological expert who said he was a "feral child" who had been neglected by his parents and suffered from mental illness.

In the case against his parents, prosecutors also alleged that the Crumbles were at times more focused on their extramarital affairs and horses than on caring for their son's deteriorating mental health. Ms. LeMieuk said the Crumbleys' parenting eventually led her to call Child Protective Services.

“Ethan was so neglected. I was worried about him. That is no way for a child to grow up," she said. The case against the Crambles
Legal experts say that American law is generally designed only to hold individuals accountable for their actions.

Still, several elements of Crumbley's case likely compelled Oakland County District Attorney Karen McDonald to file charges against the parents. First, the family bought Ethan the gun he used just days before the shooting as an early Christmas present and failed to properly secure the weapon, prosecutors allege.