The parents of the four students murdered by Michigan school shooter Ethan Crumbley have celebrated the landmark conviction of the killer’s mother.
A jury found Jennifer Crumbley guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter on 6 February, just two months after her son was sentenced to life without parole for killing four of his classmates: Hana St. Juliana, Tate Myre, Madisyn Baldwin and Justin Shilling.
After the verdict was read out in court, Shilling’s father Craig Shilling told reporters that it marks a “step toward accountability” in the case and sends a message that “all of this has to stop”.
“It was a long time coming, but it’s definitely a step toward accountability,” he said.
“It’s definitely going to resonate with me for a while,” he continued. “It’s not really about winning or losing. It’s about making it apparent that all of this has to stop in society.”
St Juliana’s father Steve St Juliana echoed his comments, telling NewsNation that the conviction is an “important first step and a bit of a wakeup call” toward accountability.
However, while it gives him some “feeling of relief”, he said that it falls short of being a “solution” to preventing this from happening again.
“It’s one small piece of the puzzle that needs to be put together to force all the changes necessary to protect our children,” Mr St Juliana added.
Tate Myre’s father, Buck Myre, also told NewsNation: “Today, the people spoke. For me as a sportsman and a responsible gun owner…I feel like for once my voice is heard in this.”
“All we did was send our kids to school,” he said, adding that there was a “huge systemic failure” on the part of the school “and the gun was just part of it”.
Meghan Gregory, whose son Keegan escaped the school during the massacre, told The Detroit News that the verdict “is a huge win for our country.”
She continued: “Change needs to happen for future generations. Holding parents accountable for their inaction to provide ordinary care is necessary for the safety of all children. The evidence was all there!”
Ms Crumbley’s case is historic, as no parent has before been charged, tried or convicted for their role in a mass shooting carried out by their child.
The guilty verdict signals that the 12 jurors found the prosecution proved that Crumbley either failed to perform her legal duty or acted with gross negligence — the standards for involuntary manslaughter in Michigan.
While the defence called Crumbley a “hypervigilant” mother, the prosecution suggested that she ignored her son’s mental health condition and despite knowing that he was experiencing a “downward spiral,” made the gun accessible to the 15-year-old.
Crumbley took the stand and testified in the case, saying she wishes things could have turned out differently.
“That was the hardest thing I had to stomach – that my child harmed and killed other people,” she said, adding: “I wish he would’ve killed us instead.”
The jury foreperson told CNN after the verdict that “the thing that really hammered it home is that she was the last adult with the gun.”
Ms Crumbley’s sentencing is scheduled for 9 April. She faces up to 15 years in prison per count, meaning she could be sentenced to 60 years in prison if the judge opts for the maximum penalty for each count running consecutively.
Her husband, James Crumbley, is being tried separately on the same charges in March.