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ABC News Studios to release documentary on James and Jennifer Crumbley trials

Hayley Harding – The Detroit News (TNS)

ABC News Studios is set to release a documentary about James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the Oxford High School shooter who were recently sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter after their son killed four classmates in 2021.

The documentary, which will be released this week, is titled “Sins of the Parents.” A trailer for the documentary features interviews with Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald as she prosecutes the Crumbleys. ABC News Studio is a division of ABC News.

The criminal proceedings against James and Jennifer were the first in the United States against parents of a school mass shooter for involuntary manslaughter.

The trailer says it has “exclusive access” into the prosecution, and there are several clips from interviews with McDonald as well as Assistant Prosecutor Marc Keast. Also featured are photos of what appears to be evidence, the Crumbleys through the years as well as their home.

“He was crying for help and being ignored,” Metro Detroit attorney Ven Johnson says of Ethan, the Crumbley’s son who gunned down four classmates at Oxford High School in 2021. Johnson is representing several Oxford families and survivors of the attack in lawsuits against district employees.

McDonald talks about several pieces of evidence in the trailer, including text messages between the parents and their son, as well as the Crumbleys relationship and behavior.

At one point, she appears to be referring to James and Jennifer when saying “those people are … yikes.” She apparently talks about how the lives they lived were “just crazy” before talking about the shooting specifically.

“They purchased that gun for him with his money and bragged about it,” she is seen saying.

David Williams, Oakland County chief assistant prosecutor and one of the people quoted in the trailer, said Sunday evening that his office didn’t know what the trailer was going to present.

“Hopefully the documentary itself will be more serious, frankly,” Williams said. “Based on the work, I don’t think it’ll be … just attention-grabbing. That’s not why we did it — we wanted the public understanding of how something like this happens, not just the prosecution.”

The documentary was created after ABC approach McDonald’s office “shortly after charges were filed,” Williams said. McDonald’s participation was “perhaps more limited” than the trailer made it appear, he added, noting that while the documentary team was given some access, they were not constantly embedded throughout the prosecution.

There also was an agreement that nothing would be released until the trials were over, Williams said. He added that McDonald’s office found assurance in the fact that producers on the documentary also had worked on documentaries about the Parkland school shooting in Florida and knew the producers would “show respect for the victims.”

He added that he was aware that some victims of the shooting also participated in the documentary.

Lawyers for James and Jennifer Crumbley could not be reached for questions about the documentary Sunday.

The documentary is set to stream on Hulu on April 18.

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