Jury seated in James Crumbley's trial weeks after wife found guilty in son's shooting

ByNadine El-Bawab ABCNews logo
Wednesday, March 6, 2024

A jury has been seated in the manslaughter trial for James Crumbley, the father of Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley, over his role in the shooting.

James Crumbley is charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each of the four students killed when Ethan, then 15 years old, opened fire in November 2021.

Opening arguments are scheduled to begin on Thursday.

James Crumbley's trial comes just weeks after his wife, Jennifer Crumbley, was found guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter for her role in the shooting. Her sentencing is scheduled for April 9.

The two parents had been set to face trial together, but a judge separated the cases in November.

Ethan Crumbley wassentenced to life in prisonwithout parole over the shooting. He pleaded guilty to 24 charges, including first-degree premeditated murder and terrorism causing death, in October 2022.

Attorneys for James Crumbley filed a motion to move his trial arguing that pretrial media coverage would seriously impact the court's ability to find an impartial jury, especially after his wife was found guilty, but that request was denied. In another blow to his defense, a judge last week allowed his son's journals and text messages to be included in the trial. Both played a prominent role in Jennifer Crumbley's trial.

Both parents' trials are a rare case of facing charges over a shooting carried out by their child.

During her trial, Jennifer Crumbley alleged that securing the gun used in the shooting was James Crumbley's responsibility. Her attorney also argued that she did not know guns well.

The shooter's parents purchased him the gun he used in the shooting as a gift and had taken him to a shooting range before the attack. During Jennifer Crumbley's trial, prosecutors argued that the parents did not secure the gun or limit their son's access to it. The safe used to hold the family's guns had a combination lock of 0-0-0, the factory preset, according to prosecutors.

During Jennifer Crumbley's trial, prosecutors discussed a video of Ethan holding one of James Crumbley's firearms that was sent from the shooter's phone to one of his friends. After sending the video, he sent a message that said, "My dad left it out so I thought. 'Why not' lol."

Extensive testimony during his wife's trial also centered around a meeting between Jennifer and James Crumbley with school officials hours before the shooting when they did not take him home after a teacher found violent drawings by Ethan on a class assignment.

Jennifer Crumbley took the stand in her own defense during her trial, though it's not clear whether her husband will do the same. It was also revealed during her trial that she was having multiple affairs at the time of the shooting.

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