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Jury begins deliberations in James Crumbley manslaughter trial related to son's shooting

The jury has begun deliberating in the trial of James Crumbley, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with his son opening fire at his high school in November 2021.

James Crumbley, the father of Michigan school shooter Ethan Crumbley, chose not to testify in his trial with the defense resting after only calling one witness Wednesday.

With the jury was removed from the courtroom, James Crumbley was asked questions by his attorney under oath, in which he revealed it was his choice to remain silent, and not testify before the jury.

MORE: Michigan school shooting: What we know about the victims

James Crumbley is facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with a 2021 school shooting carried out by his son. Four of the shooter's classmates were killed in the shooting and seven others were injured.

James Crumbley's wife, Jennifer Crumbley, was found guilty of the same four charges in February. During her trial, she chose to take the stand in her own defense, getting grilled by prosecutors over how she spent her time in the days and months leading up to the shooting, including extramarital affairs.

During closing arguments Wednesday afternoon, the prosecution argued James Crumbley could have taken several simple steps to prevent the shooting.

"James Crumbley failed to use ordinary care to prevent the death of these four kids," Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said in court.

PHOTO: James Crumbley turns to look for family members after it was announced they were present in the Oakland County Courtroom of Cheryl Matthews, Mar. 13, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich.   (Mandi Wright/AP)
PHOTO: James Crumbley turns to look for family members after it was announced they were present in the Oakland County Courtroom of Cheryl Matthews, Mar. 13, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich. (Mandi Wright/AP)

In her argument, McDonald replayed the 911 call James Crumbley made after news of the shooting had spread and he discovered that a gun was missing from their home. McDonald pointed out that James Crumbley did not wonder or ask how his son got the gun a single time on the call or in interviews with police.

At one point, McDonald pointed out that she felt school officials had not done enough to prevent the shooting when they found concerning drawings, but argued that does not absolve James Crumbley's responsibility or ability to prevent the shooting.

MORE: Video shows James Crumbley told police where to find guns after son's school shooting

The defense argued that James Crumbley did not know that his son would carry out the shooting.

"He had no idea what his son was capable of. He had no idea what his son was planning," defense attorney Mariell Lehman told the jury Wednesday.

During the rebuttal, McDonald at one point began attaching a cable lock to the murder weapon, saying it only takes "10 seconds" but could have prevented the shooting.

The Crumbleys are a rare case of parents facing criminal charges in connection with a shooting carried out by their son.

Ethan Crumbley was sentenced to life in prison without parole after he pleaded guilty to 24 counts including first-degree premeditated murder and terrorism causing death.

PHOTO: James Crumbley enters the Oakland County Courtroom of Cheryl Matthews, Mar. 13, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich.   (Mandi Wright/AP)
PHOTO: James Crumbley enters the Oakland County Courtroom of Cheryl Matthews, Mar. 13, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich. (Mandi Wright/AP)

Before the prosecution rested, Brett Brandon, one of the officers in charge of the James Crumbley case, took the stand on Wednesday, testifying about what the Crumbleys were doing during a manhunt for them and how they had groceries delivered to them.

After the parents were charged, they failed to turn themselves in by the deadline set by a judge, and a manhunt ensued until they were found hiding at a Detroit business.

MORE: Jennifer Crumbley grilled by prosecutors over extramarital affairs in 2nd day on stand in manslaughter trial

After Brandon concluded his testimony, the prosecution rested and the defense called James Crumbley's sister, Karen Crumbley, to testify. She was the only defense witness to be called to the stand.

Karen Crumbley testified to having seen both James and the shooter in April and June 2021 and not having seen or heard anything concerning about her nephew at that time. She also testified that she did not have any conversations with James Crumbley in which he would express concern over his son during that time.

PHOTO: Karen Crumbley, the sister of James Crumbley takes the stand in the Oakland County Courtroom of Cheryl Matthews, Mar. 13, 2024 in Pontiac, Mich.  (Mandi Wright/AP)
PHOTO: Karen Crumbley, the sister of James Crumbley takes the stand in the Oakland County Courtroom of Cheryl Matthews, Mar. 13, 2024 in Pontiac, Mich. (Mandi Wright/AP)

In cross-examination, prosecutor Marc Keast used cellphone records to point out that Karen was not particularly close with her brother and did not talk to him that often via the phone or social media, having only spoken on the phone three times and exchanged 22 messages in all of 2021. She also answered questions about her brother buying a gun for his son.

"If you are getting gun specifically for your child to use at his leisure, that would be wrong. But with adult supervision, I don't see any problem with it," Karen Crumbley said.

During cross-examination, Karen Crumbley testified that if she had seen drawings of a gun from the shooter or if he wrote her "help me" she would have found that concerning, as a mother, and she would have tried to help.

Karen Crumbley also revealed on the stand that when family went to visit James, Jennifer and Ethan Crumbley at their Michigan home in June 2021, James Crumbley had shown the whole family his gun and where he kept it in his room. Prosecutors have sought to argue that James Crumbley could have prevented the shooting by securing the gun and preventing his son from having access.

ABC News' Whitney Lloyd contributed to this report.

Jury begins deliberations in James Crumbley manslaughter trial related to son's shooting originally appeared on abcnews.go.com