The mother of the teenager who shot four students at a school in the US state of Michigan in 2021 has been convicted of negligent homicide. According to media reports, this is the first time in the United States that a parent of a shooter has been convicted of personal responsibility for such a crime.
The woman was found guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter on Tuesday, as CNN and the New York Times reported from the courtroom in Pontiac. The murder weapon was a gift from the parents to their then 15-year-old son. The mother now faces up to 15 years in prison - the sentence is to be announced in April.
Serious allegations were made against the teenager's parents after the crime because they had bought the murder weapon and given their underage son access to it. They are also said to have ignored warnings from the boy's school environment. The 45-year-old mother pleaded “not guilty” in the trial. Her husband is scheduled to appear in court in March. The son had pleaded guilty to all 24 charges. Last year he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He did not testify in his mother's trial.
Jury deliberated for more than 10 hours
The case has once again brought into focus the question of parents' responsibility for their children's actions. It is rare for parents to be charged and convicted of such acts of violence by minors in schools. Although parents have sometimes been held responsible for negligent behavior in the past, this case appears to be the first time a parent of an underage shooter has been found guilty of negligent homicide. The 12-member jury reportedly deliberated on its verdict for more than ten hours.
Deadly shootings at schools and universities continue to occur in the United States. Gun laws in the United States vary by state, but firearms such as pistols and assault rifles are usually relatively easy to obtain. Stricter gun laws usually fail because of Republicans in Congress and the powerful gun lobby. US President Joe Biden has promised measures to curb gun violence, but so far without concrete results.