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Trial for Michigan high school shooter's mother gets underway

Jennifer Lynn Crumbley, the mother of school shooter Ethan Crumbley (pictured in her booking photo) is facing involuntary manslaughter charges. Her defense said it will show how her son Ethan was attempting to manipulate her in the months that lead up to the shootings. File Photo courtesy of Oakland County (Mich.) Sheriff's Office/UPI
Jennifer Lynn Crumbley, the mother of school shooter Ethan Crumbley (pictured in her booking photo) is facing involuntary manslaughter charges. Her defense said it will show how her son Ethan was attempting to manipulate her in the months that lead up to the shootings. File Photo courtesy of Oakland County (Mich.) Sheriff's Office/UPI

Jan. 25 (UPI) -- The mother of Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley is set to take the stand in her involuntary manslaughter trial to explain events and her relationship with her son prior to the 2021 killing of four students in Oxford, Mich.

Jennifer Crumbley's attorney Shannon Smith said Thursday morning that the defense will show how Ethan Crumbley had been attempting to manipulate his mother in the months that lead up to the shootings.

Smith said in her opening statement that Jennifer Crumbley knew little about the family gun collection and that it was her husband, James -- who faces a tentative March 5 trial date -- who was the person responsible for safely securing the weapons.

The jury selection for Jennifer Crumbley's trial took two days of questioning and was complete Wednesday. Asking the jury to "reserve judgment," Smith went on to say the prosecution had "grossly misconstrued facts in this case," which is what pushed the defense to ask for a gag order that was granted.

Smith told jurors that the shooting committed by Ethan Crumbley when he was 15 was "absolutely not foreseeable" and "absolutely not expected."

Ethan Crumbley was 15 when he killed four of his classmates. He was charged with four counts of first-degree murder, terrorism, and other weapons charges in the shooting that occurred on Nov. 30, 2021, at Oxford High School near Detroit. File Photo courtesy of Oakland County (Mich.) Sheriff's Office/UPI
Ethan Crumbley was 15 when he killed four of his classmates. He was charged with four counts of first-degree murder, terrorism, and other weapons charges in the shooting that occurred on Nov. 30, 2021, at Oxford High School near Detroit. File Photo courtesy of Oakland County (Mich.) Sheriff's Office/UPI

"Jennifer Crumbley didn't know anything about guns. She went to the shooting range one time with James and the shooter," said the defense.

Smith said the prosecution charged Jennifer Crumbley with the involuntary manslaughter charges to "make the community feel better" so that "people feel like someone is being held responsible."

The prosecution will need to prove that Jennifer Crumbley -- who faces up to a 15 year prison sentence -- was being negligent as a parent by giving her son gun access and for ignoring warning signs about his mental state.

During his opening statement, Oakland County, Mich. Assistant Prosecutor Marc Keast tried to paint Crumbley as "responsible for those deaths" who had multiple chances to act before Ethan killed the four students.

"The two people in the world with all of the information, all of the background, to put this drawing into context were James and Jennifer Crumbley," the prosecution stated. "We're not here to talk about good parenting or bad parenting...it's not illegal to be a bad parent."

In December, Ethan Crumbley was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing four of his classmates with a semi-automatic handgun.