DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — On Friday, December 3, 2021, the parents of the alleged Michigan school shooter were formerly charged by prosecutors in Oakland County; however, Miami Valley legal experts believe the prosecution will have a difficult time proving there is enough evidence to support those charges.
James and Jennifer Crumbley both face four counts of involuntary manslaughter.
“The concept of involuntary manslaughter is that a person was acting either recklessly or grossly negligently, and in doing so, someone died,” Thaddeus Hoffmeister, a professor of law at the University of Dayton, said.
Legal experts believe the prosecution will face an uphill battle in court. According to common law, parents have a certain duty to protect their children. Prosecutors will have to prove Jennifer and James Crumbley acted recklessly or negligently, by allowing their son to have access to the gun and by keeping him in school the day of the shooting.
“They’ve got to make that connection and that was where the negligence occurred. They failed to do what they should have done as a duty to their children, to protect them and to protect others from them, and they failed to do that,” Marc Clauson, a professor of history and law at Cedarville University, said.
Clauson said getting the jury to believe the facts when applied to the law will be challenging.
“It’s always difficult to tie the actions of the person who did something to the parents or somebody else, who simply had a hand in it somehow, tangentially,” Clauson explained.
While the facts of this case may not stand up in court, Hoffmeister hopes this move to punish the parents will spark change in gun laws.
“Start passing gun safety laws where people will actually have a requirement. There’s no requirement to secure your weapon in Michigan, so I’d like to see some gun safety laws and hopefully that will happen,” Hoffmeister said.