A judge will allow evidence of Jennifer Crumbley's affair into her trial.
Crumbley and her husband face involuntary manslaughter charges related to their son's shooting.
The Crumbley's son pleaded guilty to carrying out a school shooting in Oxford, Michigan in 2021.
The jury in Jennifer Crumbley's manslaughter trial is hearing evidence about her Costco parking lot love affair after the judge on Wednesday reversed her decision to keep it out of court.
Jennifer and James Crumbley face involuntary manslaughter charges in connection with the Oxford High School shooting in November 2021 carried out by their son. It is the first time the parents of a school shooter are standing trial. Prosecutors accuse the Crumbleys of making a firearm too easily accessible to their son — who has already pleaded guilty to carrying out the attack — and ignoring warning signs that he was depressed.
The Crumbleys originally planned to stand trial together but in November requested separate trials after prosecutors claimed in court filings that Jennifer Crumbley blamed her husband for the shooting. Both parents face up to 60 years in prison and $30,000 in fines if convicted.
Evidence that Jennifer Crumbley was having an affair at the time of the shooting first came to light in February 2022 when a coworker testified in court that Jennifer Crumbley would often leave work to see someone in a Costco parking lot.
In May 2022, attorneys for the Crumbleys — who were being jointly represented at the time — requested that the judge bar evidence of the affair from entering court. The defense argued that evidence of adultery is irrelevant to the charges the couple faces.
Prosecutors argued that evidence of the infidelity was relevant because the Crumbleys had a "duty" to protect their community from their son and "what they exposed their son to" should be relevant.
At the time, the judge ruled that evidence of the affair would not be allowed at trial. But that ruling was reversed on Wednesday after Brian Meloche — the firefighter with whom Jennifer Crumbley was having the affair — testified. During Meloche's testimony, Crumbley's attorneys started a line of questioning that the judge said opened the door to questions about the affair.
The judge asked the jury to leave after Shannon Smith, a defense attorney for Crumbley, asked Meloche if police told him he would be in trouble if he helped Crumbley. Smith said Meloche was initially holding back because police "put pressure on him and made him fear he'd lose his job."
Prosecutors argued that Smith's line of questioning opened the door to evidence about the affair because they say the reason Meloche was hesitant to speak to police was because he didn't want the relationship to be made public.
Judge Julie Nicholson then asked Crumbley to stand and attest that she understood that she was reversing her previous ruling that evidence of her affair was irrelevant to the trial due to her attorney's line of questioning. Crumbley responded that she trusted her attorney and said she was willing to let the evidence be shown to jurors.
Nicholson said she would allow Meloche to answer questions about the affair but would keep a tight leash on the attorneys.
"She's isn't charged with being immoral," Nicholson said.
"This is not a trial about her morality, so I want to make sure we stick to the case and the elements you are required to prove, which is not that she's a bad person," Nicholson added.
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