Highland Park parade shooting suspect expected to change plea, prosecutors say

The Highland Park parade shooting suspect is expected to change his plea next week, just ahead of the second anniversary of the attack that killed seven people and wounded 48 others, according to the Lake County state’s attorney’s office.

Robert E. Crimo III is scheduled to be in court Wednesday at the Lake County courthouse in Waukegan, where “it is expected that a change of plea will be presented to Judge Victoria Rossetti,” according to an email the state’s attorney’s office sent Thursday evening to victims and witnesses of the attack.

The email, obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, did not elaborate on Crimo’s plea or any response to the expected change from the state’s attorney’s office.

Crimo has been in custody since he was arrested hours after the attack at the Fourth of July parade in 2022. He pleaded not guilty in August of that year.

Prosecutors, who made their request for next week’s hearing on Tuesday, confirmed the expected change of plea, but provided little additional information.

“The case will be up on June 26 for a possible change of plea,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said in a statement. “We have been updating and supporting the victims as the situation has been developing this week.”

A source said that Rinehart and others in the office called survivors and injured victims directly. The email obtained by the Sun-Times was sent to a larger group of people at the parade who were directly impacted by the shooting.

Defense attorneys did not return a message seeking comment.

The Lake County sheriff’s office plans to have “extra sheriff’s deputies on-site that day to ensure order is kept both inside and outside of the courtroom,” according to Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli.

Sheriff’s deputies stand outside the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan on Aug. 3, 2022, ahead of Robert Crimo III’s arraignment.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The sheriff’s office does not plan to close roads outside the courthouse as it did when Crimo was indicted in August 2022, “but that may change depending on information we receive or how the situation evolves,” Covelli said in an email Thursday.

Crimo, who hadn’t been expected to return to court until August, is charged with 117 counts for allegedly firing an assault rifle from a rooftop overlooking Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade in 2022, killing seven people and wounding 48 others.

The city of Highland Park is preparing to hold its first Fourth of July parade since the shooting.

Crimo

briefly dismissed his court-appointed lawyers late last year and requested a speedy trial. In early January, weeks before the trial was set to begin, he reappointed his assistant public defenders and the trial was rescheduled to February 2025.

Robert E. Crimo III’s mother Denise Pesina, left, listens to Robert E. Crimo III’s father Robert Crimo Jr., as they attend a case management meeting for Robert E. Crimo III., in Lake County court before Judge Victoria A. Rossetti in Waukegan in April.

Nam Y. Huh/AP Photos

Crimo and his father, Robert E. Crimo Jr., also face civil lawsuits filed by shooting victims.

Crimo Jr. completed a 60-day jail sentence after pleading guilty in November to misdemeanor reckless conduct for signing his underaged son’s gun ownership card application despite knowing his son’s previous homicidal and suicidal statements.

Robert E. Crimo Jr. had reported to court the day he was to begin his jail sentence wearing a T-shirt saying “I’m a political pawn,” prompting a Lake County judge to threaten him with contempt of court if he broke decorum rules again.

“The rules are not negotiable,” Judge George Strickland told Crimo Jr. at the time. “Did you read the rules?”

“No,” Crimo Jr. replied, holding a lectern, face unshaven and a shoe untied.

“That’s very interesting,” the judge said.

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