FOX 2 (WJBK) - Before declaring Jennifer Crumbley guilty on all four charges of involuntary manslaughter, the jury had to evaluate the standard of reasonable parental care and the predictability of such a crime.
Jennifer could face at least 15 years in prison for her son's murder of four students on Nov. 30, 2021 at Oxford High School. She is the first parent of a mass shooter to be charged and convicted in connection with their child's crime.
The jury forewoman declined to identify herself but said she has a 9-year-old stepson and works as a hairstylist. A key factor for the jury was that Jennifer was the last adult with the gun before the shooting.
"Lives hung in the balance, and we took that seriously," the jury forewoman said.
The court proceedings for Jennifer spanned multiple days in Oakland County court.
What sealed it for Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard was when prosecutor Karen McDonald showed that Jennifer's first thought when she learned of the Oxford High School shooting was "did my son do it?
"That tells me that there’s a foreseeability that you knew something was possible and didn’t intervene," Bouchard said.
Meghan and Chad Gregory's son, Keegan, was 15-years-old when Justin Shilling was murdered in front of him during the school shooting. They followed the testimonies, watched as Jennifer took the stand, and were anticipating the verdict.
"My heart was racing, waiting for it, and as soon as they said it, my heart skipped a beat," Meghan said.
"I do believe she cared for her son, but I believe she cared for herself more," Meghan's husband, Chad, added.
Keegan's parents said Jennifer lost sight of what it means to be a parent.
"At first, I almost fell for it. Then I started to pay attention to her body language… As soon as there was one lie out of her mouth, I was done," Meghan said. "This verdict is crucial to America. I mean we need to know that our kids are safe and parents are taking part in their children’s lives."
The Gregorys are part of an ongoing civil suit, represented by attorney Ven Johnson. Johnson says Jennifer’s case is about neglecting their son, who allegedly suffers from mental illness.
"You don’t buy that kid a gun," Johnson said. "You don’t take him to the shooting range."
The morning of the shooting, the school counselor showed Jennifer and James Crumbley their son's drawing on assignments, depicting violence and the gun his parents got for him.
Despite the counselor telling both James and Jennifer Crumbley that he wanted them to get their son help; they did not take him home that day because they had to return to work.
Hours later, he opened fire – killing four students and injuring seven others, including a teacher.
"The day that it happened they were at the school and wouldn’t take their child home," Bouchard said.
Among the family members in the courtroom for the jury's verdict on Tuesday was Craig Shilling, Justin's father. He said the guilty verdict gave some measure of solace.
"I would probably say something along the lines of 'you wouldn't have had to go through any of this if you would've just done your job as a parent,'" Craig said. "It’s a relief to have it behind us and be able to shift focus to the next one."
The next one is James Crumbley’s trial, set to begin on March 5. While some legal analysts say James has an advantage in being tried after his wife, others say there is even more damning evidence against him – as James was the one who bought the shooter the gun.