Prosecutor: James Crumbley guilty verdict in Oxford shooting won't 'bring back these kids'

Shortly after James Crumbley was found guilty on all four counts of involuntary manslaughter in the Oxford High School mass shooting his son committed in 2021, prosecutors spoke about the decision.

The 12-member jury reached the decision regarding Crumbley's verdict after a day of deliberations. Their decision will be the second of its kind after a separate jury trial last month found Jennifer Crumbley guilty on four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

"These were egregious facts in this case. These parents could have prevented this tragedy," said Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald. "(It) was foreseeable, with just the smallest of efforts. They could have prevented this shooting and saved these kids' lives, and protected the hundreds of kids in the school that day, and all of the members of the Oxford community that it devastated – with just basic, reasonable, ordinary care."

The high-profile trial followed years of evidence gathering, motion hearings, and anticipation after McDonald chose to go forward with bringing charges against the Crumbley parents just days after the mass shooting. Their son, the shooter, was prosecuted first.

PONTIAC, MICHIGAN - MARCH 14: Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald hugs family members of the students who were killed by Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley after Crumbley's father James Crumbley was found guilty on all four counts of invo

Prosecutors called more than a dozen witnesses, played security video from a gun store and inside the high school, showed revealing text messages and explosive journal entries written just days before the Crumbley parent's teenage son carried out a rampage on Nov. 30, 2021.

McDonald spoke about gun violence becoming the number one cause of death for children in the country, and called it a public health crisis.


James Crumbley Guilty: Convicted of involuntary manslaughter after monumental jury trial

It was the second guilty verdict secured by the prosecutor after she took the unprecedented step of charging both James and his wife Jennifer in connection to the mass shooting carried out by their son.

"We will not be able to address it until we start treating it like a public health crisis," she said. "And yes, access to guns is a critical piece of that, but it's not the only piece. We have to focus on prevention … So I refuse to take a victory lap with these prosecutions. It will not bring back these kids. We have a lot more work to do."

McDonald and her assistant prosecutor Marc Keast argued over five days of witness testimony that James was partly responsible for the deaths of Madisyn Baldwin, Hana St. Juliana, Tate Myre, and Justin Shilling.

The four fatally shot Oxford students who died from Tuesday's attack.

The four fatally shot Oxford students who died from Tuesday's attack. 

Parents of the four victims spoke to the media during the press conference, praising the prosecutors and calling for common sense while pleading that gun violence is not a partisan issue with children's lives at stake.

"Our kids are not doing well these days. We're at a mental health crisis," said Buck Myre, Tate's father. "So, the gun is just a tool, so we've got to look at other things other than the gun. We've got to see what we can do to support these kids better."

Madisyn Baldwin's mother Nicole Beausoleil said the verdict has to be a springboard for change.

"Right now we have a verdict. We have to execute that verdict," she said. "We have to plan for change. We have to reinforce it. This is not just a verdict for attention or media ... how are we going to use this verdict to actually make that change?

"We need to start focusing on the school and its failures. The things that they don't want to admit to - that's going to be our next plan for change."

McDonald said that the gnawing question of how the shooter first got hold of the gun was at the root of the prosecution.

"(The case) started with one question. Where did he get that gun?" she said. "Where did he get it, and how did he get it? And that is a question that every single one of us, as mothers and fathers asked, and that's what has led to the last two and a half years."

During her rebuttal, McDonald physically locked the murder weapon with a cable lock, showing the jury that "ten seconds of the easiest, simplest thing" could have prevented the deaths of four teenagers.

McDonald was asked how much of a lasting impression that the gun lock demonstration left with the jury. She didn't hesitate in her answer.

"It made a lasting impression on me," she said. "When I installed that lock for the first time and my team were all sitting around, it was just very upsetting. When I demonstrated that and it was 10 to 12 seconds - and I'm not a police officer and I am not an expert in firearms.

"I'm not sure what what impact it had on the jury but it had an impact on me."

But Mariell Lehman, the defense attorney for James Crumbley, argued there were any number of gaps in what the defendant knew about what his son was planning that he couldn't be found guilty. 

"You would have seen evidence if James was guilty," she told the jury during her closing argument. "If James knew about what was in the journal, the prosecution would have told you that. If James knew his son had gained access to firearms, the prosecution would have told you that.

"The fact that you have not seen that evidence is your reasonable doubt," she added.

At the heart of the case was whether James Crumbley was negligent as a parent when he purchased a gun for his son - a gun that would be used days later to commit mass murder. 

Charging the parents of a mass shooter for crimes tied to the shooting is no longer unprecedented after Jennifer Crumbley's case ended in early February. Whether both parents could be found guilty for the same crimes, with similar evidence, but a different jury remained to be seen – until Thursday.

Judge Cheryl Mathews scheduled James Crumbley's sentence date for April 9 at 9 a.m., the same day Jennifer Crumbley is expected to be sentenced. 

Recapping each day of James Crumbley's trial

Read recaps of each day of testimony below: