PONTIAC, Mich. – Jennifer Crambley, her mother teenage school shooter Ethan Crambley“I don’t think I failed as a parent,” she testified Thursday, adding that she wouldn’t have done anything differently in how she raised her son, but she regrets what she did.
“I wish he’d killed us instead,” she said his involuntary manslaughter trial.
He added: “I don’t want to say I’m a victim because I really don’t want to disrespect the families who are victims, but we’ve lost a lot.”
“Have you lost everything?” his attorney, Shannon Smith, asked.
“We did,” Crambley said.
Her relationship with her son was the focus of her long-awaited testimony, which her defense said will show why the Michigan mother “could never wait.” He killed four students and injured several others at Oxford High School In November 2021.
The trial, which opened a week ago, is an unusual case of criminal prosecution of a school shooting parent.
A line of questioning by Crambley’s attorney tried to deflect blame from him. She testified that she was responsible for storing the gun her husband had bought for her son as a Christmas present and that it was “her job”.
Crumbley also said her son’s school didn’t tell him he was having trouble staying awake and paying attention to his studies.
“If you heard your son was having a hard time, what would you do to follow up?” Smith asked.
“I would talk to my son and find out what’s going on,” Crumbley said.
She admitted that she was worried and stressed about her son’s future after high school, but his mental health never bothered her enough that she felt she needed to see a professional.
“On several occasions, Ethan expressed anxiety about taking exams, about what he would do after high school, about college, about the military,” Crambley said. “That’s why he expressed these concerns to me. It’s not to the point where I feel like he needs to see a psychiatrist or a mental health professional right away.”
During his testimony, the jury was shown dozens of photos from Crambley’s Facebook page showing his family spending time together over several years.
“I trusted him and felt like we had an open door and he could talk to me about anything,” Crambley said. “I thought we were really close as a family.”
Prosecutors argued that she knew her son was suffering from poor mental health and social isolation, and that he had access to guns, but she cared more about her horses than his concerns.
“Jennifer Crambley did not pull the trigger that day, but she is responsible for their deaths,” Oakland County Assistant District Attorney Marc Keast said during his opening statement.
But her defense told the jury that while she was a caring mother, she had no idea her son was capable of such violence – suggesting her school did not fully inform her and her husband, who was responsible for keeping the gun.
“He’s going to pull up his chair and talk about his life with his son, the day he became a shooter and the day he did something he never expected or thought or could have predicted,” Smith said in his opening remarks. the jury added, “You will hear that the school never advised Ms. Cramble on the problematic issues.”
Jennifer Crambley’s husband, James, will face his own trial in March on the same charge of involuntary manslaughter.
If convicted, the Crumbley family each faces up to 15 years in prison and a $7,500 fine per charge.
The trial mostly revolved around the shooting day of November 30, 2021.
Within a week of filing their case, prosecutors called more than 20 witnesses, including law enforcement and school staff, and presented text message and video evidence, including school surveillance of the shooting itself.
Video of the shooting left Crumbley hanging his head and sobbing.
The day after Thanksgiving, prosecutors say James and Jennifer Crumble bought their son a 9mm Sig Sauer.
Jennifer Crambley testified that Ethan asked her to take him to a gun range that weekend, the only place he was allowed to shoot.
“It was a fun day,” Crambley said. “I felt good about it.”
He added that he “didn’t feel comfortable” being in charge of keeping the gun, which also had a cable lock, but hid the bullets after he got home from the range.
That Monday, a teacher at Oxford High School said she saw Ethan looking for ammunition online, according to prosecutors, and the school left a voicemail for his mother. The next day, a teacher said she found a note on Ethan’s desk with a picture of a gun and a victim and messages like, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.”
The discovery prompted the school to call the parents for a meeting, but school officials testified that they refused to bring him home because they had to return to work.
Authorities also said that if parents had informed them of their child’s acquisition of a gun, they would have been more empowered to provide immediate safety.
Ethan would go on to commit a school shooting later that afternoon.
He pleaded guilty to murder, terrorism and other crimes as an adult was sentenced to life imprisonment in December without parole.
Prosecutors showed jurors photos taken on Crambley’s phone in March 2021 of her and her husband riding horses. A computer crime expert testified that their son texted his mother about seeing demons in their home. “house haunted” and asks him, “Can you at least send a message?”
Crambley did not respond to the message line, but called her son 90 minutes after he texted her in a call that lasted 19 seconds.
She testified Thursday that she saw the texts, but that her son believed their home was haunted and enjoyed “messing with us” because that was his personality.
Selina Guevara reported from Pontiac and Eric Ortiz reported from New York.