In a court filing on Thursday, prosecutors argued that evidence of Jennifer and James Crumbley’s personal issues, including an extramarital affair and drug addiction, should be allowed to be presented at their trial. The couple’s lawyers called the evidence “superfluous”.
The parents have each been charged with four counts of manslaughter after their teenage son allegedly shot and killed four students and injured seven others at Oxford High School in November.
Prosecutors argued that Jennifer and James Crumbley played “a much bigger role than just buying their son a gun” and that there were a lot of things the parents could have done other than just lock up the weapon, which could have prevented the tragedy. They also argued that the parents had “every reason” to know their son was dangerous.
“What the evidence will really show is that these defendants exposed their son to years of chaotic and toxic conflict, which is a well-known risk factor for entering the path of violence,” the filing states. “The survey paints a clear picture of parents who were not only in constant conflict, or who just exposed their son to conflict, but who actively inserted him into their conflict…”
Investigators interviewed witnesses across the country who interacted with the family from when Ethan was in kindergarten, the filing reveals. Neighbors and others told investigators the parents constantly fought and drank to excess, often leaving Ethan unattended.
Evidence also shows that the parents spent thousands of dollars on alcohol and grooming for the horses and negligible amounts on medical care, the filing says. Ethan felt the financial stress and wrote about it in his diary, prosecutors said.
“My grades are dropping, my parents hate each other, we have no money, I have no help for my mental issues and it drives me to shoot the f**king school,” a journal entry states.
Prosecutors also allege that when Ethan was six, his mother took him to spend the night with someone she was having an affair with and left him on the couch. When he was older, prosecutors said, Jennifer and James Crumbley would ask their son to investigate possible infidelities or watch over one of the parents, inserting him into their personal issues.
When Ethan went through periods of poor sleep or insomnia, he “complained about seeing demons and asked for help,” but his parents ignored him, prosecutors said.
“Their son was deteriorating before their eyes; he slept only a few hours a night – stayed up very late at night while the defendants drank, argued and slept a few meters away in a bedroom that shared a wall with the shooters’ room “, prosecutors said.
Witnesses also told investigators that the parents were “regularly intoxicated” in front of Ethan and that marijuana was often used in the home, according to the file, and that the parents spent nearly $4,000 at a liquor store in proximity in 2021 alone.
Prosecutors pointed out in their filing that they were seeking to admit evidence of Ethan’s exposure to infidelity, substance abuse, arguments and financial stress to show the stressful environment created by the Crumbley parents in the days and years leading up to the fatal shooting.
CNN requested comment from lawyers for Jennifer and James Crumbley on the prosecutors’ allegations, but did not receive an immediate response.