Highland Park suspect Robert Crimo to represent himself at trial

WAUKEGAN, Ill. — The man accused of firing an assault rifle into crowds at a July Fourth parade in suburban Chicago last year, killing seven people, said Monday that he plans to represent himself at his trial, which is set to start in February.

Robert E. Crimo III, wearing a red shirt and red handcuffs, appeared in a Lake County courtroom, but did not explain why he wants to represent himself. He is facing 117 charges, including 21 counts of first-degree murder, 48 counts of attempted murder and 48 counts of aggravated battery, in connection with the shooting in Highland Park.

Judge Victoria Rossetti made it clear that Crimo, 23, would be responsible for filing all of his own motions and would not be getting any special treatment in jail for representing himself. 

Rossetti extensively questioned Crimo, who said his highest education level is high school, to ensure that he understood the potential consequences of consecutive life sentences if he is convicted. 

Crimo sat up straight and looked directly at the judge when she spoke to him, answering “no” when asked if he had ever taken any law classes, picked a jury, questioned potential jurors, questioned witnesses, researched or presented motions, or drafted opening and closing arguments. 

He added he had experience in court “as an observer.”

The public defenders who previously represented Crimo declined to comment.

His trial is set to begin Feb. 26. Rosetti said because of the number of witnesses and extensive amounts of evidence, it is expected to last four to six weeks, with jury selection taking seven to 10 days. 

The judge originally recommended the trial start in February 2025, but changed the date after Crimo asked to invoke his constitutional right to a speedy trial. 

The deadline for motions is Jan. 5, and Crimo’s next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 10.

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart released a statement Monday, saying that “the prosecutors on this case have been working tirelessly since July 4, 2022, and will be ready for trial on the set date.” He added they had no comment on Crimo’s choice of legal representation.

After the attack, prosecutors said that Crimo confessed in detail to the shooting and revealed that he had considered a second attack in Wisconsin.

In November, his father, Robert Crimo Jr., pled guilty to seven counts of misdemeanor reckless conduct after authorities said he sponsored his son’s Firearm Owners Identification application, which allowed him to buy the AR-15 style weapon used in the shooting.

Crimo Jr. is expected to be released from jail on Dec. 13 for good behavior after serving part of a 60-day sentence, according to officials. When he turned himself in at the start of his sentence in mid-November, he was wearing a shirt that said, “I am a political pawn.”