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Parents of Oxford school shooter can face trial, court says

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DETROIT -

The parents of a teenager who killed four students at a Michigan high school can face trial for involuntary manslaughter, the state appeals court said Thursday in a groundbreaking case of criminal responsibility for the acts of a child.

The murders would not have happened if the parents hadn't purchased a gun for Ethan Crumbley or if they had taken him home from Oxford High School on the day of the shooting, when staff became alarmed about his extreme drawings, the appeals court said.

The court noted that the legal threshold at this stage of the case is fairly low under Michigan law.

"Whether a jury actually finds that causation has been proven after a full trial, where the record will almost surely be more expansive -- including evidence produced by defendants -- is an issue separate from what we decide today," the court said in a 3-0 opinion.

James and Jennifer Crumbley are accused of failing to secure a gun and ignoring the mental health needs of their son before the shootings in November 2021. Besides the deaths of four students, seven people were wounded.

Crumbley, 16, has pleaded guilty to terrorism and murder and could be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Attorneys for the parents insist it was not foreseeable what would happen on the day of the shootings. They acknowledge that bad decisions were made but not ones that should rise to criminal charges.

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