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Guilty: Inside the high-risk, historic prosecution of a school shooter's parents

PONTIAC, Mich. - It was just past 8 on the night before her closing argument when the prosecutor slipped out of her team's war room and headed down the hallway to a closet packed with cardboard bins and paper bags, all of them sealed in red tape imprinted with the word "EVIDENCE." She pulled on a pair of mint green latex gloves and eyed a small, white box. "Oxford High School" was written in blue ink on the top, and below that, a series of details described what was inside - "Item No .: 1." "Description of Item: One 9mm." "Offense: Homicide."

Karen McDonald, Oakland County's elected prosecutor, opened the box and picked up a Sig Sauer handgun that had ended four teenagers' lives in 2021 and consumed her own ever since.

Stored all around her were remnants of that day. There was the journal in which Ethan Crumbley, then 15, wrote that his parents had ignored his pleas for help and that he was so distraught he would "SHOOT UP THE FUKING SCHOOL" and, days later, that he would do it using the gun they'd just bought him as a gift. There were the 32 empty casings from rounds he'd fired down hallways and into classrooms. There was 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana's black backpack, stained with blood and stuffed with headphones, Skittles and a biology notebook pocked with a bullet hole. And then there was the purse that once held four new cellphones and $6,617 in cash that Ethan's parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, had with them when police found the couple hiding in an industrial building four days after the shooting.


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