Parents can be tried for son’s school shooting: Appeals court
A Michigan court of appeals has ruled that the parents of a teenager responsible for a school shooting in the United States can be tried for involuntary manslaughter, paving the way for a groundbreaking case.
In a unanimous opinion, the three-judge appeals court called for a full trial against James and Jennifer Crumbley, whose son Ethan Crumbley opened fire at Oxford High School in 2021, killing four people and injuring seven.
The three judges – Christopher Murray, Michael Riordan and Christopher Yates – wrote in their decision that Ethan’s “acts were reasonably foreseeable”. They also determined that his parents’ “actions and inactions were inexorably intertwined” with the murders he committed.
The judges cited “visual evidence” that Ethan planned to commit violence with the gun that his parents had purchased for him, including drawings that depicted firearms, decapitated birds and human suffering.
Several illustrations had been drawn on a math worksheet on the day of the shooting with the words, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.”
“The morning of the shooting, Ethan Crumbley drew a picture of a body that appeared to have two bullet holes in the torso, apparently with blood streaming out of them,” Riordan told the court.
The judge noted that the gun depicted in the sketch resembled the firearm his parents “had very recently gifted to him”. His parents had been summoned to the school to discuss the picture hours before the shooting, but neither the school nor the parents demanded Ethan be brought home.
If not for the “defendants’ informed decision to leave Ethan Crumbley at school, these murders would not have occurred that day”, the judges concluded.
Their decision is likely to test the limits of negligence and liability in situations in which minors commit violent crimes. Ethan, now 16, pleaded guilty in October to 24 state charges, including first-degree murder and “terrorism”.
He may be summoned to testify at his parents’ trial.
On November 26, 2021, James Crumbley legally bought a 9mm SIG Sauer handgun that Jennifer Crumbley would later describe as a “Christmas gift” for their then-15-year-old son.
The following Monday, Ethan was caught researching ammunition on his phone during class at Oxford High School near Detroit, where he was a sophomore. A school official left a voicemail about the incident on Jennifer’s phone.
Jennifer, who had taken Ethan to a shooting range the weekend prior, responded by initiating a text-message conversation with her son in which she told him: “I’m not mad. You have to learn not to get caught.”
That Friday, Ethan opened fire in the high school with the handgun and an additional 50 rounds of ammunition in his backpack.
Prosecutors have maintained that James and Jennifer Crumbley shared responsibility for Ethan’s actions, writing in a court filing, “They created an environment in which their son’s violent tendencies flourished.”
The appeals court echoed that assessment, writing on Thursday, “a reasonable fact-finder could conclude” that the “defendants’ decision to purchase their mentally disturbed son a handgun” led to the shooting.
The court’s decision referenced instances in which Ethan described hallucinations to his parents in text messages, including the belief that he was being haunted by a demon. Ethan told a friend that his parents had brushed off his request to see a doctor, telling him instead to “suck it up”.
The judges also cited the parents’ “failure to properly secure the gun”.
An active shooter alert was sent to the parents on the day of the attack, prompting James Crumbley to go home and discover the firearm had been taken. He called emergency services a little more than half an hour after the attack to express concern that his son might be the shooter.
In the days after the shooting, prosecutors filed involuntary manslaughter charges against the parents, and law enforcement launched a manhunt to arrest them, ultimately discovering them in Detroit.
Lawyers for the parents have denied their clients are guilty of manslaughter. They are expected to request that the Michigan Supreme Court review the case.
“It was not foreseeable from the drawings on that math homework that he was going to later carry out the premeditated murders of those students,” defence lawyer Mariell Lehman previously told the court.
In Thursday’s decision, the appeals court acknowledged that it shared “the defendants’ concern about the potential for this decision to be applied in the future” to other parents whose children commit violent acts.
But it ultimately decided that the Crumbley case involved “uniquely troubling facts” that merited the consideration of a full jury trial.
“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 judges wrote.
(Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies)
Developing and underdeveloped countries are paying the price for the wrong policies of some developed nations – Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday (05) said developing and underdeveloped countries are paying the price for the “wrong policies” of some developed nations, and asserted that India has raised the issue of climate justice with every such advanced country.
In his video message at a World Environment Day event, Modi said for the protection of the world climate, it is important that all countries think, rising above vested interests. “For a long time, the model of development in big and advanced countries was contradictory. In this developmental model, the thinking was that we first develop our country then we can think about the environment,” the prime minister said. “With this, they achieved the goals of development, but the world’s environment had to pay the price for their development. Today also, the developing and underdeveloped countries of the world are paying the price for the wrong policies of some developed countries,” he said. For decades, no one was there to object to this attitude of some developed countries, Modi said. “I am happy that India has raised the question of climate justice with all these countries,” he said.
In the thousands of years old Indian culture, there is nature as well as progress, Modi said as he credited this to the country’s attention to ecology and economy.
The prime minister said as India is investing unprecedentedly in its infrastructure, it is focusing equally on the environment.
More than 260 dead after Odisha accident
At least 261 people have been killed and 650 injured in a crash involving three trains in India’s eastern Odisha state, officials say.
One passenger train derailed and its coaches fell on to the adjacent track where they were struck by an incoming train on Friday evening. A freight train was stationary.
The rescue operation at the crash site has ended, officials said.
The cause of India’s worst train crash this century is not yet clear. Officials said several carriages from the Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express derailed at about 19:00 (13:30 GMT) in Balasore district, hit a stationary goods train and several of its coaches ended up on the opposite track. Another train – the Howrah Superfast Express travelling from Yesvantpur to Howrah – then hit the overturned carriages.
“The force with which the trains collided has resulted in several coaches being crushed and mangled,” Atul Karwal, chief of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) told news agency ANI.
It was the third deadliest crash in the history of Indian railways, he said.
More than 200 ambulances and hundreds of doctors, nurses and rescue personnel were sent to the scene, the state’s chief secretary Pradeep Jena said.
Sudhanshu Sarangi, Director General of Odisha Fire Services, had earlier said` 288 had died. The rescue operation recovering people from the wreckage has finished and work to restore the site of the crash begun, India’s South Eastern Railway company said on Saturday.
Residents of the neighbouring villages were among the first to reach the site of the accident and start the rescue operation. Some surviving passengers were seen rushing in to help rescue those trapped in the wreckage.Local bus companies were also helping to transport wounded passengers.
India has one of the largest train networks in the world with millions of passengers using it daily, but a lot of the railway infrastructure needs improving.
India’s worst train disaster was in 1981, when an overcrowded passenger train was blown off the tracks and into a river during a cyclone in Bihar state, killing at least 800 people.
233 killed, around 900 injured in Odisha triple train crash
At least 233 people have been killed and about 900 injured after two passenger trains collided in the eastern Indian state of Odisha – the country’s deadliest rail accident in more than a decade.
The Coromandel Express, which runs from Kolkata to Chennai, collided with another passenger train, the Howrah Superfast Express, about 7pm local time, railway officials said on Friday.
The Howrah Superfast Express derailed and crashed into the Coromandel Express, South Eastern Railway authorities said. Media reports had earlier said the crash was between the Coromandel Express and a goods train.
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