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'Unprecedented' ruling against Crumbleys opens up a 'Pandora's box' in criminal justice system: Andy McCarthy

Fox News contributor Andy McCarthy highlighted his concerns over what impact the ruling against James and Jennifer Crumbley will have on the justice system.

James and Jennifer Crumbley, parents of Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley, were each sentenced Tuesday to 10-15 years in prison in connection to the 2021 mass shooting. Fox News contributor Andry McCarthy, however, issued a warning on "America Reports" on how the "unprecedented" decision could impact the criminal justice system. 


ANDY MCCARTHY: It's completely unprecedented ...your heart breaks for the parents of the children who were killed here. But you have to remember that the person who actually did the shooting got treated as an adult and was sentenced to life in prison. So it's not like the system didn't carry out law enforcement against the person who actually did this. It's unprecedented to hold the parents accountable to something that they obviously didn't plan, agree to participate in. I frankly just don't think that this is what the criminal justice system is for. I think the criminal justice system mainly should be reserved for intentional wrongs. And I think it's more troubling here because Michigan actually attempted to or proposed passing child access prevention laws, which would prevent – which would make it a crime for parents to negligently allow their children to have access to firearms. And the legislature wouldn't pass that. So what happened here is the prosecutor made up a crime on the fly that the legislature had not opted to pass. 

It's a Pandora's box. You're extending the criminal law to people who didn't actually commit the crimes. 

Having been a prosecutor for a long time, this is what you have a civil justice system for. I mean, these parents ought to be sued civilly. And it's the reason that you get the kind of judgments that you sometimes see in these tragic cases. But the criminal justice system is not intended to deal with tragedy. What it's intended to deal with is intentional wrongs. And I think if you take the step where you're now going to extend it beyond intentional wrongs, then all bets are off, and you don't know where it goes.

Judge Cheryl Matthews of Oakland County, Michigan, sentenced James and Jennifer to a term of 10 to 15 years in prison each with credit for time served.

Two separate juries found both James and Jennifer guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the shooting on Nov. 30, 2021, when their then-15-year-old son killed students Tate Myre, 16; Justin Shilling, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and left seven other victims injured.


The parents' trials have been described as historic, as they are the first parents of a school shooter in U.S. history to be tried for their child's crimes. Ethan Crumbley's case was also considered historic because he pleaded guilty to a terrorism charge on top of murder charges. The now-18-year-old will spend life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Fox News' Audrey Conklin contributed to this report.

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