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James Crumbley Declines to Testify in His Michigan School Shooting Trial

Testimony ended Wednesday morning in the trial of James Crumbley, whose son carried out Michigan’s deadliest school shooting more than two years ago, and whose wife was convicted last month in the same courtroom for failing to prevent the rampage.

Prosecutors took the rare step of seeking to hold the Crumbleys partially responsible for the shooting at Oxford High School on Nov. 30, 2021, in which their son, Ethan, who was 15 at the time, killed four people and injured seven others.

“That nightmare was preventable, and it was foreseeable,” Marc Keast, an Oakland County prosecutor, said in an opening statement last week. He accused Mr. Crumbley of failing to secure the gun that his son used in the shooting.

Mr. Crumbley has been jailed since December 2021, when he and his wife, Jennifer Crumbley, were each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. They requested separate trials, and unlike his wife, Mr. Crumbley chose not to testify in his own defense.

The witness lists in the two trials were similar, but there were a few key differences in the evidence that was presented.

At Ms. Crumbley’s trial, lawyers pored over her communications with her son, including months of text messages, as prosecutors tried to paint her as a detached and negligent mother.

But in the case of Mr. Crumbley, the testimony focused less on his parenting and more on the Sig Sauer pistol that he bought for his son four days before the shooting as an early Christmas present.

Law enforcement officials who searched the Crumbleys’ home shortly after the rampage testified this week that they had found the storage case for the gun lying open on the parents’ bed, along with an empty box of ammunition. They said there was no indication that the case had been locked.

Officials walked the jury through several entries in the shooter’s journal, including one that appeared to have been written the day before the shooting. “I have access to the gun and the ammo,” the entry said. “I am fully committed to this now.”

It was not clear whether either of the shooter’s parents had seen the journal entries before the shooting.

Prosecutors called 15 witnesses to the stand in Mr. Crumbley’s trial, including people who saw the shooting and law enforcement officials who investigated it. The defense called only one witness: Karen Crumbley, the defendant’s sister. She said that until the shooting, she had never seen a reason to be overly concerned about her nephew.

Mariell Lehman, the lawyer for Mr. Crumbley, said in opening statements last week that her client was unaware that his son had access to the gun, and that he had no reason to think his son was going to act violently.

“James Crumbley did not know what his son was going to do,” she said. “He did not know that his son could potentially harm other people. He did not know what his son was planning.”

The jury is scheduled to hear closing arguments on Wednesday afternoon.

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