Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

Biden Speaks As Senate Border Deal Nears Collapse; Verdict Reached In Manslaughter Trial Of MI School Shooter's Mom; Jury Finds Michigan School Shooter's Mother Guilty Of Involuntary Manslaughter. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired February 06, 2024 - 13:30   ET



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The decision about what we do in terms of American funding, whether we're going to engage with the situation in Ukraine.

It all goes to the question of American power. It all goes to, will America keep its word, does America move forward?

There is some movement. And I don't want to -- let me choose my words. There's some movement. There's been a response from the -- there's been a response from the opposition.

But, yes -- I'm sorry, from Hamas. But it seems to be a little over the top. We are not sure where it is. There are continuing negotiations right now.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. president, if this bill fails, would you consider supporting something separate that just addresses Israel or Ukraine?

BIDEN: I am not going to concede that now. We need it all. The rest of the world is looking at us and -- (INAUDIBLE).


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Your reaction to that ruling?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: We've been listening to President Biden from the White House calling on lawmakers in Capitol Hill to quote, "show some spine."

The president describing the Senate deal brokered on immigration, on aid to Ukraine, on aid for Israel, among other things, quote, "the strongest voter bill the country has ever seen."

He says that House Republicans do not want to pass it because they are afraid of Donald Trump.

He says that the American people will know every day between now and Election Day that the border is not secure because of Donald Trump. He went on to tout the positive aspects, as he sees it, of this bill.

He has talked about who has endorsed the bill as well.

But he's essentially putting this squarely on House Republicans. And on the issue of Ukraine, telling them history is watching, because opposition to this bill is a gift to Vladimir Putin.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And we have some breaking news now that we need to get to. A verdict has been reached in the manslaughter trial of Jennifer Crumbley. She is the mother of the Michigan high school shooter who killed four of his classmates back in 2021.

We have been following this. This has really captivated the nation here for days. She is facing these four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each of the victims.

Let's bring in Jean Casarez, who is outside of the court, to talk about this.

We've been wondering how long the jury would deliberate here, Jean, and this appears to be it.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are just about to hear this verdict. I can tell you that it is a little more than 10 hours of deliberation.

Jennifer Crumbley, you may see, she's already in the courtroom. The attorneys have entered the court room. The alternates are in the courtroom, family members have entered the courtroom.

We are waiting now for the judge and the jury to enter that courtroom. And the jury will then deliberate and deliver their verdict to the judge.

Of course, there's only one count here. It is involuntary manslaughter. It is all or nothing.

It is a guilty of involuntary manslaughter for Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of Ethan Crumbley, who was the mass shooter of Oxford High School in November 2021, or it will be not guilty, and she will be released, we understand very shortly, if this is a not guilty verdict.

But this is the moment of truth that this jury has been deliberating on now for more than 10 hours.

KEILAR: All right, Jean.

Let's bring in Areva Martin.

Areva, as we heard Jean say there, this is all or nothing when it comes down to what is being looked at here.

When you look at how long the jury deliberated, when you consider the entirety of the case and what we heard as well from Jennifer Crumbley on the stand, what do you think jurors have considered and where they might be leaning? AREVA MARTIN, LEGAL ANALYST & CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: We know, Brianna,

they were grappling with this decision yesterday. They asked the judge two really important questions.

They asked, how did Ethan get that gun? And of course, we don't know how Ethan got the gun. That was never introduced into evidence. That is still a big mystery in this case.

They also ask about the legal definition of -- that they had to consider in terms of making the determination about guilt or not guilty. And that was about this gross negligence standard. They were having some problems trying to understand how to interpret that legal standard.

The judge gave them the answer that we expected him to give, which is basically repeating what he'd already done in the jury instructions.

So we know this has not been an easy decision for this jury. And whatever the decision is, it's one that they have gone through, I would believe, some painstaking effort to get to.

So it's going to be curious to see. Jennifer did not put on any witnesses. She's the only witness in her defense. It'll be interesting to see if her testimony alone was enough to cause this jury to say that she's not guilty of these charges.


SANCHEZ: I just want to let our viewers know, that is Jennifer Crumbley that just walked into the courtroom.

Ostensibly, we are anticipating the jury will now enter the room, as soon as we see folks rise. Obviously, the cameras aren't going to show the jury itself.

We also have with us Laura Coates and Misty Marris.

Laura, I thought I wasn't going to see you again until 11 p.m., but here we are.

Given the amount of time that the jury spent deliberating, given the questions that they brought up, what are you anticipating we are going to hear in a few moments?

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR & CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: You know, this is a trial of historic proportions, Boris. This will be the very first time in the history of our nation that we have a parent of a school shooter, a mass shooter, who would be held to account for the actions of their child.

He is already serving a life sentence without parole. Remember, he was initially listed as potentially on her own witness list. He is not on the witness list. He did not actually testify and did not actually testify on her behalf.

This has been to two different trials. One for Jennifer Crumbley, his mother, and the other for his father later down the road.

She is trying to build a defense, essentially to say, I had no idea. I was not on notice, whatever he was going through, it was not foreseeable. To the extent that I knew about what he was grappling with, I thought suicide might be the likely result, not at all harm towards others.

It's going to be a very telling case in terms of how we regard deterrence and prosecution in the future.

Perhaps most importantly here, we saw a woman take the stand when you have parents on that jury, you have men and women, you have a community where they are, in fact, gun owners.

The Second Amendment right is still hold dear, particularly in this area, were even a school official talked about the potential of many students hunting before school.

The school administrator, Boris, you did not check the backpack on the day of the tragic shooting that claimed four lives and injured seven others. This is going to be a monumental decision either way.

KEILAR: Yes, that's part of the thing, Misty Marris, if we can bring you into this, is that you have that issue, right? The school officials are not going to be held to account, even though parents think they should. They have been deemed by a judge to be immune, as government employees.

James Crumbley, her husband, who purchased the gun, is going to be tried separately.

And actually, let's pause and listen as everyone is rising here, ahead of what we expect is the verdict being read. Let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your Honor, I call the case The People versus Jennifer Crumbley, case number 22279. (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED PROSECUTOR: Good afternoon. I'm -- (INAUDIBLE) -- on behalf of the people.

MARK KEAST, PROSECUTOR: Good afternoon. I'm Mark Keast on behalf of the people.

SHEILA SMITH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Good afternoon, I'm Sheila Smith, on behalf of Jennifer Crumbley, who sits to my left.



KEAST: All right. I'm going to ask when the jury gives their verdict after that, so we can see it.


KEAST: I really want the audience to see that after that. MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE).


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All rise for the jury.

MATTHEWS: Good afternoon. You may be seated.

Ladies and gentlemen -- (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED JUROR: That is correct.

MATTHEWS: Are you ready to proceed?


MATTHEWS: Would you please read your verdict?



UNIDENTIFIED JUROR: OK. On count one of involuntary manslaughter, of Madisyn Baldwin, we find the defendant guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

On count two of involuntary manslaughter in regard to Tate Myre, we found the defendant guilty of involuntary manslaughter.


On count three of involuntary manslaughter regarding Hana Thomas St. Juliana, we find the defendant guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

And on count four of involuntary manslaughter against Justin Shilling, we find the defendant guilty of involuntary manslaughter.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jury number one, was that and is that your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jury seat number two, was that and is that your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jury seat number three, was that and is that your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jury seat number five, was that and is that your verdict? UNIDENTIFIED JUROR: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jury seat number six, was that and is that your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jury seat number seven, was that and is that your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jury seat number eight, was that and is that your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jury seat number 11, was that and is that your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jury seat number 12, was that and is that your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: July seat number 13, was that and is that your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jury seat number 14, was that and is that your verdict?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jury seat number 16, was that and is that your verdict?


MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. We know this is one of the hardest things you've ever done.

We ask you to return to the jury room, under -- (INAUDIBLE).


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All rise for the jury.

MATTHEWS: All right, you may be seated. (INAUDIBLE) -- for sentencing.

KEAST: (INAUDIBLE). Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE). MATTHEWS: I'm going to ask that everyone remain seated while the defendant is taken out of the courtroom.


MATTHEWS: You may be seated.

KEILAR: And that is the verdict in what is a groundbreaking case against the mother of the Oxford High School shooter from Michigan. That shooting, of course, in November of 2021. All four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Jennifer Crumbley's been found guilty of for the deaths of Madisyn Baldwin, who was just 17 years old, Tate Myre, who was 16, Hana St. Juliana, who was 14, and Justin Shilling, who was 17 at the time of Jennifer Crumbley's son going into the school with a gun that had been purchased by her husband.

SANCHEZ: No visible or audible reaction from Crumbley standing at the defense table. She briskly walked out after the judge and jury left the room. She did not look at the camera after it was addressed.

You just saw moments ago, people in the audience hugging and shaking hands. Obviously, a period that has been very traumatic for this community.

But it is a historic decision, given that it is one of the only times we've seen a parent tried for something that a child, a school shooter in this case, has carried out.

We are replaying the moments where the -- where Jennifer Crumbley was escorted out of the courtroom.

We should point out, being found guilty of all four counts, there's a maximum penalty of 15 years for each count to be served concurrently.

Clearly, a significant verdict. And now, her husband is going to be facing similar charges, or the same charges, in a courtroom, just weeks from now.

KEILAR: That's right. And this may not bode well for him as well. Because this jury, in particular, clearly, had some issues with the meeting that happened at school, and all of the things of which Jennifer Crumbley was aware of.

So, too, was her husband, and he was the one who purchased the weapon. And Jennifer Crumbley said he was in charge of securing it. We'll see, certainly, what the jury in his case thinks.

I do want to bring in Jean Casarez to talk about this.

You know, Jean, so often in the wake of these school shootings, we have a whole team here dedicated to covering this really groundbreaking verdict here.

[13:45:05] I think, so many times, Jean, after these shootings, and we've covered so many of them unfortunately, we look and think about all of the different things that contributed. Where could I have been averted?

But never before have we seen it get to this point, where you have a jury convicting a parent for their role in what they could have done and didn't do.

CASAREZ: What you're saying, Brianna, is this jury found beyond a reasonable doubt that Jennifer Crumbley was grossly negligent with her son or that she violated a legal duty of a parent to warren her son and to warren the community and the victims in this case.

I think the jury looked at the big picture, because the prosecution's case was that Jennifer ignored her son. That she was never there for him. That she spent more time with her horses, three to five times a week after work than she did with her son.

But her son texted her in March, beginning in March, saying, "I think the house is haunted. The bowls are flying off the shelf. I'm scared. Maybe it's my delusions. Help me."

There was not a response. It may have been a phone call an hour and a half later, but no response.

And then, later on, there was testimony that came into this trial that the family didn't know about, but he texted a friend of his saying, "I've asked my mom and dad for help to take me to the doctor. I need help. And my dad told me to suck it up and take a pill, and my mother laughed."

The defense had nothing to cross-examine on that, because Ethan Crumbley asserted his Fifth Amendment right. Even though we know he told the jailhouse psychiatrist that he lied right there. But the defense didn't have an opportunity to cross examine it.

Then you get to buying the gun, Black Friday. When the jury had to believe there were mental issues here, there was ignoring their son, buying a gun, allowing him to use it.

And then Monday, researching bullets in school. And then Tuesday, the math drawing where they saw a figure, gun, blood, bullets everywhere, "My life is useless. The world is dead."

And they said they had to go back to work. The board asked them to take him out of school, but they said, we'll do it within 48 hours. And the school felt concerned it needed to be as soon as possible.

The jury had to look at all of that and weigh in and balancing. They are the triers of fact. And they had to determine that, based on those facts right there, it is beyond a reasonable doubt of guilt for involuntary manslaughter of a parent. The first time in this country.

SANCHEZ: Laura, to you, I'm curious that the point that Jean just brought up and whether that could work in a potential appeal, the fact that the jury heard these claims from her son that he had asked repeatedly for help from his parents to seek professional advice when it came to his mental health issues.

The jury not hearing the other side of that, that he told a psychiatrist those text messages to his best friends were actually untrue. Is that something that her defense team could seek out an appeal on?

COATES: They most certainly will appeal this decision, mostly because the extraordinary historic nature of what we are seeing.

Every time we have seen, sadly, a school shooting, a mass shooting in this country, what do we all do? Viscerally, we ask what the parents knew. What did they know? Were there any red flags?

This trial was about red flags. It was answering the question of, what if red flags are waving right before a parent's eyes, and they do not act in a way that we want them to? That's what this trial was about.

Remember, it's about the collection of evidence. In part, it is those statements by the shooter himself. But it's also that very day of the shooting.

Remember, the parents were called to the scene. They were, at one point of the day before, telling their son, just don't get caught next time, in terms of researching bullets.

After there was a shooting known to their parents, what did the mothers say? "Please don't do it. Don't do it." Saying it to her son.

Trying to explain away all those different factors to justify and defend oneself on involuntary manslaughter, which is based on not intent, not intending to kill, but on such careless disregard and extreme recklessness and negligence, where you could have prevented something and did not do something, that's what it's about.

And finally, remember, Boris, to the extent that school officials were on the stand testifying, the parents knew the one thing that these school administrators did not know. That with all they had before them in the classroom, in the notebook and beyond, the parents knew that he also had a gun.


They knew because they purchased it for him. The idea of how it was stored, how he may have had access to it, all of that, very much part of this trial.

And I go back to a moment when she testified on the stand and she was asked if she could have gone back and done anything different, what would you have done?

And she said she wouldn't have done anything differently if she had gone back in time. And that the only thing she wished or different was that he had taken her and her husband's lives.

It made a huge impact on this jury. As did the judge at the very beginning. Asking the jurors to read out the verdict, with respect to each of the four lives taken.

What an extraordinary moment, where we've so often have shooters who are not living any longer by the time the police are on the scene, and parents and families and communities are left to pick up the pieces and have nowhere to channel their sense of justice.

Here, it is a mother, eventually a father who will be on trial, and the behavior of the son.

KEILAR: Yes, and will be looking towards that April sentencing date, April 9th, when we will find out what amount of time she is going to serve for this.

But that was so poignantly put there, Laura, as you described this.

I wonder, Areva, if you were surprised at all by this verdict?

MARTIN: No, Brianna. We've been having this conversation all week. You know, I've been pretty firm in my belief that this would be the outcome of this case.

I felt we've been very troubled by the actions of Jennifer Crumbley. I was troubled by the fact that she said she advocated the responsibility the responsibility for safety of the gun to her husband after she admitted that she didn't even trust her husband to handle basic household chores.

She texted him throughout the day every day, encouraging him to get out of bed, making sure he had cut the grass, acting as if, in many ways, as if she was his mother.

So, someone so irresponsible as her husband, yet, she said she gave him the responsibility of safe keeping this gun. In fact, she testified that guns weren't her thing.

I was also very troubled by the amount of time she spent with her horses. The fact that she wasn't spending time with her son.

I think, for me, as a mother of three kids, the drawing. A day she was called to that school and she was shown that drawing, she spent only 11 minutes in the meeting with those school officials.

And at no time during that meeting did she reached out to her son, did you say, son, do you need some help? Can I take you to my job? We know her job said she could've brought her son to work with her.

She didn't do the things that you would think a caring mother would do, although her defense was that she was this very hypervigilant, very involved mother.

She tried to prove that through these Facebook postings. But it wasn't credible. It was unbelievable.

I think the parents sitting on that jury, many of them with children themselves, and know about the dangers that our kids face in schools, know about these really horrific school shootings. And if you are the parents of a 15-year-old kid, who you called depressed, you said he's depressed and you buy him a gun, and you don't take every precaution to safeguard that gun.

I can't imagine how the defense thought that the jurors would find anything other than that Jennifer Crumbley was guilty for involuntary manslaughter.

SANCHEZ: Misty Marris, we spoke multiple times as this case was unfolding, specifically about some of the text messages on Facebook Messages not only between Crumbley and her son, but between her and other members of the community.

Including somebody that she was having an affair with, that detailed some of her feelings about how her son was doing.

I think the jury clearly felt that the prosecution's argument outweighed what the defense was saying about those exchanges.

MISTY MARRIS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, absolutely. Because this case rises and falls on the element of foreseeability. And whether or not the shooter going into that school on that fateful day and pulling the trigger was a foreseeable consequence of all of those factors that you just laid out.

And speaking of text messages, everyone's made great points about how the totality of the circumstances, clearly, the jury believes that this was a foreseeable act, and that Jennifer Crumbley should have stepped in, on that day, in the school, told the school, he has access to a gun.

But something that has always stuck out to me is one specific text message. And it comes when word is coming out in the --

KEILAR: I'm afraid we lost Misty there.


Mercedes, I do want to ask you, if -- you know, what do you think the ramifications of this will be on other cases where we see school shootings? Because what we know, unfortunately, is there will be more.

MERCEDES COLWIN, LEGAL ANALYST & TRIAL LAWYER: Unfortunately, so. It is so true. It's a resounding message to anyone that has guns in the home. You can't ignore when your child is calling for help.

Those journals were so painstaking to read. I'm sure the jurors reacted to those journals, where Ethan Crumbley made it very clear his parents had deaf ears to all the pleas for help.

Pleads to see a doctor. Pleads to get help. Pleads that he felt alone. All of those calls, and what he did in those journals, all of those text messages that were ignored.

It's a big message to anyone that owns a gun. If you own a gun and you have a child that is in crisis, like Ethan Crumbley clearly was, you must safeguard it.

I have to say, the defense tried their best to instill fear in those jurors by saying, this could be you, you could be Jennifer Crumbley.

You could have a child that takes these heinous acts, takes these actions, and somehow, you will be found culpable of your child's actions. Even if you don't know about it.

She walked through some of those scenarios. She said, what if your child's sexting and sends a picture of himself exposed? Guess what? You could be convicted for child pornography. She did all she could to instill that fear.

But it couldn't overcome the mountain of evidence against Jennifer Crumbley about the many times she could have interceded, could have assisted her child, and could have certainly made sure that this gun would not be in his possession on that fateful day.

SANCHEZ: All of our thanks to everyone on the panel.

Please stand by, because we're going to have much more on our breaking news. A guilty verdict in the manslaughter case against the mother of the Michigan high school shooter.

Stay with CNN. We're back in just moments.