Attorney For James Crumbley: The Crumbley Parents Are 'Very Good People' and 'Both Are Innocent'

May 12, 2024, 11:03 PM by  Allan Lengel

Mariell Lehman (website photo)

Mariell Lehman, attorney for James Crumbley, father of mass school shooter Ethan Crumbley, defends her client and his wife Jennifer, saying they're "very good people" who "should never been convicted" on multiple counts of involuntary manslaughter in the 2021 killings at Oxford High School.

"They were thrust into a situation that they never saw coming," Lehman said last week in an interview on the podcast, "ML Soul of Detroit," with hosts M.L. Elrick and Mark Fellhauer. 

Both James and Jennifer Crumbley were each sentenced last month to 10 to 15 years in prison on four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the deaths of four Oxford High School students murdered by their son, who was 15 at the time. Seven others were shot and wounded including a teacher.

The Crumbleys became the first parents in the U.S. to be charged and convicted in a mass school shooting. Both plan to pursue an appeal of their convictions.

"I believe that James and Jennifer are both innocent and should never have been convicted, so I will continue to fight for James and others regardless of what the people behind the keyboard think of me," she said.

The "keyboard" is a reference to the comments she received from people criticizing her for representing James Crumbley.

James Crumbley and his attorney attorney Mariell Lehman

"I got emails, I got messages through my website...I had about 2 1/2 years of people telling me what they thought about me and who I am as person and what I do for a living."

She blames a lot of that on the prosecution. 

"Unfortunately a lof that is because of the narrative that was put out by the prosecution...if it had been told from the beginning what the truth was and the types of people that Jennifer and James are, I don't think that people would have been nearly as vicious and angry as they were."

She questioned how Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald was so quick to accuse the Crumbleys of criminal culpability just days after the shooting without doing a thorough investigation at that point.

"James was not an absentee parent, he wasn't selfishly ignoring his child. He was involved in his child's life. He didn't see signs that were concerning. He did everything he could as a parent to be a good father. Was he perfect? No, but no parent is perfect."

She said the Crumbleys and the school knew Ethan Crumbley was sad, but had no clue he would become violent.

Ethan Crumbley prison photo

Prosecutors portrayed the Crumbleys as negligent parents who ignored their sons cries for help. They accused the Crumbleys of not keeping guns safe in the house, and buying their son a gun for Christmas, then taking him to the shooting range.  

Despite her defense of the Crumbleys, she said she doesn't in anyway minimize the pain and destruction in the community caused by Ethan Crumbley, who is serving a life sentence without parole at the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee in northern Michigan. He turned 18 last month. 

"I acknowledge and recognize what those families have gone through and what they continue to go through," she said.

To listen to the complete interview click here.


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