PONTIAC, Mich. — James Crumbley was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter on Thursday for his role in his teenage son's fatal school shooting in 2021, mirroring the conviction of his wife, who had been found guilty on the same charge the previous month.

The jury's verdict, reached after approximately 10 hours of deliberation, concludes a landmark case that marked the first instance in the United States where parents of a mass school shooter were held criminally accountable. Ethan, the 15-year-old son of James and Jennifer Crumbley, had pleaded guilty as an adult to the shooting at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in December.

James Crumbley, 47, could face up to 15 years in prison for each of the four counts of involuntary manslaughter, corresponding to the four students who lost their lives. Jennifer Crumbley, 45, is scheduled for sentencing in April.

Prosecutors asserted that James Crumbley had purchased a 9 mm Sig Sauer handgun as a gift for Ethan the day after Thanksgiving, during a difficult period when Ethan was grappling emotionally with the departure of his best friend. Although Crumbley was not accused of prior knowledge of the attack, which Ethan had hinted at in journal entries, his actions leading up to the shooting were deemed crucial.

While the cases against both husband and wife followed similar trajectories, with many of the same witnesses testifying in both trials, the prosecution's focus on James Crumbley's social and work life was relatively minimal. Testimony spanned less than a week, and unlike Jennifer Crumbley, James did not testify in his own defense.

However, his conduct before and on the day of the shooting was central to the case. School staff testified that the Crumbleys were summoned to Oxford High School that morning regarding a drawing by Ethan depicting a gun and a person being shot. Despite this, the parents failed to disclose Ethan's access to a firearm and claimed they couldn't take him home due to work commitments.

A digital forensics expert testified that James Crumbley hadn't started his DoorDash delivery job until after the meeting and, upon doing so, had driven past the family home multiple times — prompting the prosecution to suggest he had the opportunity to verify the firearm's security.

Subsequently, Crumbley admitted to investigators that he had concealed the handgun in an armoire and stashed the ammunition beneath clothing in another drawer.

Ethan Crumbley ultimately claimed the lives of four students: Justin Shilling, Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, and Hana St. Juliana.

During closing arguments, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald emphasized that the deaths could have been prevented if Crumbley had taken even minor precautions, rebuffing the defense's claim that responsible gun ownership absolved parents of liability in such cases.

McDonald clarified that the trial was not about making a statement on gun control or parental accountability, but rather about the specific circumstances that led to the involuntary manslaughter charges.

The majority of jurors in Crumbley's trial are parents themselves, with many having personal experience with firearms, either through ownership, upbringing, or connections with family and friends who own them. This underscores the prevalence of firearms in this particular region of Michigan, where hunting is a popular pastime.

In her closing arguments, defense attorney Mariell Lehman emphasized that the prosecution had to establish its case beyond a reasonable doubt and contended that there was no evidence to suggest that Crumbley was aware of his son posing a danger to the public or that he had access to the firearm.

"But you didn't see it because it isn't true," Lehman asserted. "James didn't know. This can constitute your reasonable doubt."

James Crumbley's trial proceeded more swiftly compared to his wife's, with the prosecution presenting 15 witnesses as opposed to 21 in Jennifer's trial. Although the witness list initially included a surviving student of the shooting and the original owner of the handgun, they were not ultimately called to testify.

In Jennifer Crumbley's case, prosecutors placed greater emphasis on perceived shortcomings in her parenting and her purported disregard for her son's mental well-being while engrossed in her hobbies and extramarital affair.

During James Crumbley's trial, prosecutors underscored to jurors that despite Michigan's enactment of a safe gun storage law, which took effect that year, it remained his legal responsibility as a parent to prevent his minor child from posing an "unreasonable risk of harm to others."

Testimony in James Crumbley's trial commenced the previous Thursday. Concurrently, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Matthews issued a court order on that same day, restricting Crumbley's access to jail phone and electronic communications — with exceptions for communication with his attorney, legitimate religious figures, or for using his tablet for research — following allegations of him making "threatening statements" of undisclosed nature.