Jennifer Crumbley grilled by prosecutors over extramarital affairs in 2nd day on stand in manslaughter trial
Crumbley is on trial for her role in a school shooting carried out by her son.
Jennifer Crumbley came under fire Friday for extramarital relationships as she was cross-examined by prosecutors in a second day on the stand in her manslaughter trial. Prosecutors grilled the mother of Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley on her "vigilance as a parent" and questioned how she spent her time ahead of the shooting that killed four people in November 2021.
Following her testimony, the defense and prosecution also delivered closing arguments Friday before sending the case to the jury. Deliberations are expected to begin Monday at 9 a.m.
In a dramatic cross-examination earlier Friday, prosecutors revealed that Crumbley used an app, Adult Friend Finder, to arrange "meet-ups" just days before the shooting. After her lawyers objected to the line of questioning, prosecutors said they were hitting back at her testimony that she had only one affair.
Earlier in the trial, Brian Meloche -- a long-time friend of Jennifer Crumbley -- revealed on the stand that the two had been having an affair when her son carried out the school shooting. Crumbley confirmed they had an affair while testifying on Thursday.
"She depicted herself as having one extramarital affair for a six-month period of time where she met with him one time a week. That was her testimony," Assistant Prosecutor Marc Keast said in court Friday, asking Crumbley, "It was you and Mr. Meloche arranging with other individuals to meet after work, as well?"
"I only met with Brian during work hours," she responded. "The times we were at the hotel, I was on business. We did arrange for other people to meet us there."
Prosecutors also revealed that just two days before the shooting, Jennifer Crumbley had been using Adult Friend Finder to arrange a meet-up. But she said she did not meet up with anyone on that day.
Prosecutors wrapped up their cross-examination of Jennifer Crumbley Friday morning, and the trial moved to closing arguments.
"It's a rare case. It takes some really egregious facts; it takes the unthinkable and she has done the unthinkable and because of that four kids have died," Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said in closing arguments.
Prosecutors laid out the evidence again, asking the jury to find Crumbley guilty.
"The facts do not support the story that Jennifer Crumbley told you. They just don't," McDonald said.
Defense attorney Shannon Smith hit back at the prosecution in a rambling 90-minute closing, saying there was nothing that could have been done to prevent the shooting.
"It was unforeseeable. No one expected this. No one could have expected this, including the Crumbleys," Smith said.
"I'm human being and so is Mrs. Crumbley," she added. "And that's what this case is about. She's not a perfect person or a perfect parent. I'm certainly not a perfect person or a perfect parent."
Smith sought to defend Jennifer Crumbley as a mother who was doing the best that she could, at times giving examples from her own life as a mother and saying her house was just as messy as the photos the jury was shown of Crumbley's home.
"I can go around this house for three hours and try to get as much as I can done or I can sit on my couch and watch old episodes of 'The Kardashians' with my daughter," Smith said. "And I believe my time is better spent hanging out with her watching trashy TV than cleaning up my house."
Smith told the jurors that she doesn't check her kids' phones and asked the jury that if her son should sext a girl with the phone she got him, would make her guilty of child pornography? "Can every parent really be responsible for everything their kids do?" she asked.
"This case is a very dangerous [case] for parents out there," Smith told the jury.
Jennifer Crumbley and James Crumbley have both been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the shooting carried out by their then-15-year-old son. James Crumbley will go on trial separately in March. Both parents have pleaded not guilty.
Ethan Crumbley has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing four students and injuring seven others on Nov. 30, 2021.
On Friday, prosecutors pushed Crumbley on how much time she spent on hobbies, including her interest in horses and ski patrolling, as well as the time consumed by her affair. Crumbley said her son "was not into horses" so she often did not take him to the barn because he did not want to go. She testified that she always asked him if he wanted to go with her but he would decline to.
Crumbley said the gun used in the shooting, which she had posted online was a "gift" for Ethan, was only for use at a shooting range when they went together as a family.
Jennifer Crumbley first took the stand in her own defense on Thursday, testifying for hours about the days and months leading up to the shooting to the shooting, the day of the shooting and the following days.
Crumbley also reaffirmed a line of questioning from Thursday, telling prosecutors Friday she could have taken her son home from school the day of the shooting. The Crumbleys had been called to the school by officials for a meeting about concerning drawings made by Ethan.
The parents decided against taking their son home, despite school officials testifying they told them to get him mental health care immediately, suggesting places that could offer care that day. The parents had told school officials he would have to walk home and be there alone if he left school for the day.
Jennifer Crumbley testified Thursday that the meeting had been "nonchalant" and "brief" and that she was told by school officials that they didn't feel her son was a risk and offered to allow him to stay at school.
Text messages allowed into testimony
Judge Cheryl Matthews decided Friday to allow texts between Jennifer Crumbley and her attorneys from the night her and her husband were apprehended by police after a manhunt to be used by prosecutors in the trial.
While reviewing evidence in preparation for the trial, prosecutors had accidentally seen a screenshot of one of the texts, giving them reason to believe they could help their case. Matthews had originally prohibited them from admitting the texts as evidence, until Crumbley's testimony Thursday raised the issue again.
While the text messages fall under attorney-client privilege and were not allowed to be used in trial, prosecutors asked Matthews to allow 23 messages between Crumbley and her attorneys into evidence to dispute her testimony. On Thursday, Crumbley had testified that while she was aware she had been charged with manslaughter, she was awaiting instruction from her lawyer before turning herself in.
Crumbley testified that she was asleep when police arrived on the scene of the art studio where the parents were allegedly hiding days after the shooting took place, but prosecutors say the time stamps on texts prove that she was awake just before they were taken into custody.
"Think we might have found," the texts read. "Don't know. Just head's up. Please check."
"That was written, but I do not believe it was written by me," Jennifer Crumbley said after the texts were read aloud in court.
Minutes later, Crumbley testified that her husband had been using her burner phone instead.
"I was using my other phone," she said. "So he started using my burner phone. I used the one with our regular phone number."
"When I saw the video of my husband going to the car and having a cigarette, I knew I was probably sleeping at that time because I did not like us not being together after what happened to us on [Nov. 30, 2021], when police came to our house," Crumbley said. "If he went out to have a cigarette without me it was most likely because I was asleep."
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