News Roundup

Jennifer Crumbley was convicted on Tuesday of four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one count for each student her 15-year-old son Ethan shot and killed at his Michigan High School in November 2021. The pistol Ethan used to kill his classmates was a gift from his parents. The New York Times described the trial, in which the State focused on warning signs they said Ms. Crumbley ignored, as a “significant test case” for prosecutors. While parents whose children have carried out gun violence have pled guilty to less serious charges in other state cases, Ms. Crumbley faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for the four counts of which she was convicted.

Ms. Crumbley’s husband and Ethan’s father, James Crumbley, will be tried in March. Ethan Crumbley previously pled guilty to multiple charges, including first degree murder, and is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He did not testify at his mother’s trial.

Federal appeals court rejects former President Trump’s claim that he is immune from prosecution. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled on Tuesday that executive immunity does not shield the former president from criminal prosecution based upon his alleged efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election. CNN has the story and a link to the full opinion here. Mr. Trump is expected to appeal the ruling to the United States Supreme Court; the criminal trial is temporarily stayed to allow Mr. Trump to seek review.

Special counsel announces there will be no charges against President Biden. The Department of Justice released on Thursday a report from the Special Counsel’s Office concluding there was insufficient evidence to charge President Joe Biden with crimes for keeping classified documents and notebooks at his home.  While the president may have welcomed the investigation’s favorable conclusion, he was furious about the report’s portrayal of him  as “an elderly man with a poor memory.” The Washington Post has the story of the report and President Biden’s response.

Dr. Kevorkian may be gone, but the debate about assisted suicide is ongoing. The New York Times reports that 85-year-old Stephen Miller, a former doctor, has been charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of a woman last November in a New York motel room. According to Mr. Miller’s lawyer, the woman who died contacted Mr. Miller through an organization that advocates the legalization of medical aid in dying. These are not Mr. Miller’s first criminal charges. He previously was sentenced to more than three years in federal prison for tax evasion, and his medical license was subsequently revoked.

Meanwhile, a bill to allow a health care provider to prescribe a life-ending drug to a terminally ill adult patient is advancing in the Virginia legislature. NPR reports that, according to the advocacy group Compassion and Choices, eighteen other state legislatures are considering physician-assisted death bills.

North Carolina criminal law practitioners may recall that in 2018 the Court of Appeals affirmed the active sentence imposed on a Charlotte man convicted of voluntary manslaughter for drowning his ailing wife at her insistence.  See State v. Leonard, 258 N.C. App. 129 (2018).

Black box evidence key to State’s case in LA socialite’s murder trial. An expert in Rebecca Grossman’s trial for second degree murder for fatally striking two boys in a crosswalk in 2020, testified Wednesday that the event data recorder in Grossman’s Mercedes SUV showed that she was traveling 73 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone and tapped the brakes a second and a half before she slammed into eleven-year-old Mark Iskander and his eight-year-old brother Jacob. Grossman’s attorney challenged the accuracy of the data, pointing out that it showed the Mercedes had traveled 42,249 miles in 4,461 minutes, which would reflect an average speed of 568 mph. Grossman’s attorneys also continue to argue that her car did not hit both boys; at the time of the crash she and her then-boyfriend, Scott Erickson, a former MLB pitcher, were both headed toward Grossman’s home in separate vehicles. The LA Times has the story here.

King(cake)pins. The Associated Press reports that this Carnival season a thief stole seven king cakes, cash, and a case of vodka from a New Orleans bakery. The bakery in question took the high road on social media, acknowledging that its purple, gold, and green baby-hiding confections are “just that good,” but imploring customers to “come and purchase one during our regular store hours.”