Wednesday, April 17, 2024

People deciding what happens to James Crumbley have big decisions to make to be fair

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A tragic school shooting happened in a close-knit village. Then, there was a big trial that ended in the conviction of the shooter’s spouse. This brought up a big debate about who should own guns and how they should handle them.

Last week, a group of possible jurors had to think about some heavy stuff before being chosen. Now, they’re the ones who will decide if James Crumbley, the dad of a teen who shot up a Michigan high school in 2021, is guilty of involuntary manslaughter. His wife, Jennifer, already got convicted of the same thing last month in the same place. If James gets found guilty, he could go to jail for up to 15 years, just like his wife.

The people deciding James’s fate are from the same area where the shooting happened, which is a bit of a problem, according to his lawyer. After Jennifer’s trial, the lawyer wanted to move the trial to a different part of the state because they thought the jury might not be fair. But the judge said no.

Choosing the jury got pretty emotional. Some potential jurors couldn’t handle the idea of being fair to the shooter’s dad. One guy, who has three kids, said he might not be able to be fair because his daughter gets nightmares about school shootings. Another guy said he couldn’t watch Jennifer’s trial because her lack of remorse bothered him.

Two other guys worried that being on the jury might mess up their jobs. One of them was told by his boss not to talk about the case if he got picked. The judge almost got rid of another guy because he wasn’t sure if he could be fair, but later he changed his mind. So James’s lawyer used one of their chances to remove him from the jury.

The people deciding James’s fate need to understand his situation and the community he’s from. But they also need to be able to judge him fairly. That’s according to a law professor from the University of Michigan.

The trial is about more than just James. It’s also testing who’s responsible when a mass shooting happens. Prosecutors say parents should be blamed if they gave their kid a gun and ignored signs of mental health problems. That’s never been decided in court before Jennifer’s case.

During jury selection, most of the people picked said they were parents and some had guns at home. But they all agreed that guns should be locked away safely, especially if there are kids around.

James’s lawyer wanted to move the trial somewhere else, but the judge said no. Sometimes, trials get moved if there’s too much connection to the area where the crime happened.

It’s hard to know how Jennifer’s conviction will affect James’s trial. Her lawyer warned the jurors that if they convict James, it could set a bad example for parents in the future.

One of the people on the jury said he didn’t watch Jennifer’s trial closely, but his wife did and she thought Jennifer showed no remorse. He promised he could still be fair to James.

Deciding whether James is guilty will come down to what the jury believes he knew about his son’s mental health and the gun storage. James might testify in his defense, like his wife did, or he might not. Three extra jurors will be picked before the jury decides.

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