Alleged Highland Park shooter Robert Crimo III backs off representing himself in upcoming trial

7 killed, dozens wounded in July 4, 2022 Highland Park parade shooting

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Friday, January 5, 2024
Alleged Highland Park shooter backs off of representing self in trial
Alleged Highland Park shooter Robert Crimo III is backing off of representing himself in his upcoming trial, and requested a public defender.

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- After saying he wanted to represent himself about a month ago, alleged Highland Park parade shooter Robert Crimo III decided in court Friday he again wants a public defender.

Last month, despite the 23-year-old having never witnessed a trial in his life, he told Judge Victoria Rossetti in a calm, but firm voice that he wanted to represent himself.

He faces 21 counts of murder, along with nearly 100 other charges related to the 2022 Highland Park parade shooting.

But, during a brief hearing Friday morning, he appeared to have changed his mind, as he requested a public defender.

Crimo did not say what prompted his change of heart.

Rossetti reappointed the attorneys who worked on the case previously.

Legal experts say it was the right decision.

"It's the only sensible decision, representing himself would have been legal suicide," ABC7 legal consultant Gil Sofer said.

Crimo appeared in court with his long hair pulled back in a bun. He was handcuffed and under heavy guard, wearing an orange prison uniform Friday morning.

Sitting in the gallery a couple rows back were his mother and father.

Robert Crimo Jr. was released last month from jail, after serving time for a misdemeanor conviction for his role in allowing his son to get a firearm owners identification card. He had little to say leaving the courthouse Friday.

"I have no comment," Crimo said.

Neither the state's attorney nor the public defender's office are commenting on Crimo's decision. Legal experts say whoever represents Crimo III in court will have a difficult challenge defending him. Police took him into custody hours after the mass shooting, and the prosecutor said he confessed to investigators.

"If it's true he made a confession, that is the highest legal hurdle anyone can get over," Sofer said.

There will be another hearing next week for Crimo, and a jury trial is set to begin Feb. 26.

RELATED: Robert Crimo Jr., father of Highland Park parade shooting suspect, files for bankruptcy

He previously told the judge he wanted to invoke his right to a speedy trial, which moved the date up from 2025.

Seven people died and 48 were injured when prosecutors say Crimo opened fire on paradegoers on July 4, 2022.