HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- A trial date has been set for alleged Highland Park parade shooter Robert Crimo III.
He is 23 years old, and has never even witnessed a trial.
But, Crimo III told Judge Victoria Rossetti in a calm, but firm voice that he wants to represent himself. He faces 21 counts of murder, along with nearly 100 other charges related to the 2022 Highland Park parade shooting.
While he was represented by a public defender in court on Monday, he made clear to the judge he wants to go it alone from here on out. It is a decision legal experts say is ill-advised.
"It's a terrible idea, one of the worst things you can do," said ABC7 legal analyst Gil Sofer.
Crimo III has been charged with killing seven people and injuring 48 others on July 4, 2022. Several victims of that shooting were represented in court, but offered no reaction.
Crimo III's mother was also in court, but declined to comment. His father, Robert Crimo Jr., in the meantime, is currently being held in the same jail as his son, serving a 60-day sentence on charges related to helping his son to obtain a firearms ID card.
Prosecutors may have been caught off guard by Crimo III's decision to represent himself. But, they now will have to prepare for what could be a complicated trial with dozens of witnesses in less than three months.
That's because Crimo III also told the judge he wants to invoke his right to a speedy trial. So, the trial, which was to begin in February 2025, is now scheduled for February 26, 2024.
Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart issued a statement after Monday's hearing, saying, "The prosecutors on this case have been working tirelessly since July 4, 2022, and will be ready for trial on the set date. Our victim specialists have been in constant communication with the victims and their families throughout the case and will continue to do so. Our office has no comment the defendant's legal representation."
Experts said they doubt it will make a difference in the case.
"There's very little he can do to be ready for this case on his own," Sofer said.