Accused Illinois parade shooter no longer defending himself in court

WAUKEGAN, Ill. — The man accused of killing seven people by firing an assault rifle into the crowd at a Fourth of July parade in a Chicago suburb has reversed his decision to represent himself in court.

Robert E. Crimo III, 23, asked the judge on Friday to reappoint a public defender to represent him, the latest curveball in his court proceedings. At his last court appearance in December, he requested to represent himself without providing any explanation.

On Friday, Crimo appeared at the Lake County Courthouse wearing a red jail shirt and a mask, his hair pulled back in a ponytail and hands chained together. His parents were in court observing the proceedings, which lasted less than five minutes, sitting directly behind the defense table.

The hearing took place on the last day of the deadline to file motions in his case. At the opening of court, Judge Victoria Rossetti asked Crimo if he still wished to represent himself and he replied, “With thorough consideration, I am requesting to reappoint the Lake County public defenders.”

Crimo’s first act after motioning to represent himself was to invoke his right to a speedy trial, prompting the judge to move the trial start date up by a year, from February 2025 to next month.

Prosecutors said they anticipate discussion of the trial date at the next court hearing, on Jan. 10. “Our victim specialists have been in constant communication with the victims and their families throughout the case and will continue to do so,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said in a release. “Our office has no comment on the defendant’s legal representation.”

Crimo is facing 117 charges related to the deadly shooting at the parade, where seven people were killed and dozens were injured. Rossetti has said she expects the trial to last a month or more, with jury selection lasting seven to 10 days.  

Crimo’s parents declined to comment after the hearing. His father, Robert Crimo Jr., was released from jail on Dec. 13 after serving a sentence for seven misdemeanor counts of reckless conduct related to signing off on a card that allowed his son to legally obtain the gun used in the shooting.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said the father’s jail time was cut in half after receiving credit for good behavior. He did not have contact with his son while in the jail because family is not housed in the same area, the sheriff’s office said.