Prosecution rests, Jennifer Crumbley takes the stand in manslaughter trial

“I wish he would’ve killed us instead,” Jennifer Crumbley said of her son Ethan during her testimony.

Defense attorney Shannon Smith, left, speaks to her client Jennifer Crumbley, back right, on the stand in the Oakland County courtroom on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich.

Defense attorney Shannon Smith, left, speaks to her client Jennifer Crumbley, back right, on the stand in the Oakland County courtroom on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich.

The mother of convicted Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley took the stand in her own defense on Thursday — the sixth day of her involuntary manslaughter trial.

Jennifer Crumbley was the first witness called to the stand by defense attorney Shannon Smith after prosecutors rested their case Thursday afternoon.

The prosecuting attorneys called more than 20 witnesses to testify throughout the trial in an effort to paint a picture that she and her husband, James Crumbley, could have prevented their son from shooting up Oxford High School in November 2021 — killing four of his classmates and injuring 11 total — had they not been such grossly negligent parents.

Prosecutors allege the parents ignored signs that their son could become violent and instead bought him the gun he used in the shooting.

During her testimony, Jennifer Crumbley described her relationship with her son, from the types of hobbies they enjoyed together to holiday celebrations and family vacations. Smith spent several minutes of her direct examination having Jennifer pore over dozens of photos she had posted to her Facebook page in the years leading up to the shooting. This was to show the jury a different side of the Crumbleys’ family life than what prosecutors have illustrated.

“I wish he would’ve killed us instead,” said Crumbley, wishing Ethan Crumbley wouldn’t have went on a shooting rampage at his school over two years ago.

One piece of evidence prosecutors pointed to as a sign of Crumbley’s gross negligence were text messages sent to her by her son claiming the teen was seeing demons.

When asked by her lawyers if she saw those messages, Jennifer Crumbley responded that they didn’t seem unusual at the time.

“I’m sure I did…but they didn’t…they weren’t… no. I’m sure I saw them but they just didn’t stick out to me until this case,” she said.

Crumbley says her son had believed the house was haunted since he began playing with an Ouija board.

“He’s been convinced our house has been haunted since 2015…so it was built in 1920. Around that time frame he and his friend would go down in the basement and play Ouji board,” the mother said.

Crumbley said her and husband James — who is awaiting his own trial on identical charges — would play along by pranking their son about the house being haunted.

The prosecution will attempt to show the defendant was grossly negligent during their cross-examination when Jennifer Crumbley resumes her testimony on Friday.

Read also: Defense counsel clashes with prosecutors over new evidence in Jennifer Crumbley trial

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  • Jenny Sherman
    Jenny Sherman is 101.9 WDET's Digital Editor. She received her bachelor’s in journalism from Michigan State University and has worked for more than a decade as a reporter and editor for various media outlets throughout metro Detroit.
  • Alex McLenon
    Alex McLenon is a Reporter with 101.9 WDET. McLenon is a graduate of Wayne State University, where he studied Media Arts & Production and Broadcast Journalism.