In a highly anticipated ruling, Lake County Judge George Strickland refused to dismiss the case against Robert Crimo Jr., the father of the Highland Park shooter who killed seven people and injured several others during a Fourth of July parade in 2022. Crimo Jr. had been charged under a law that his lawyer argued was unconstitutionally vague, but the judge rejected this argument, stating that the law does not prohibit legal conduct and is therefore not overly broad.
The defense also contended that Crimo Jr. was charged too late, after the three-year statute of limitations had passed. However, Judge Strickland ruled that the statute of limitations was valid through July 4, 2025, three years from the date of the mass shooting.
Crimo Jr., who pleaded not guilty earlier this year to seven counts of reckless conduct, now faces trial on November 6. Each count carries a maximum three-year prison term. Prosecutors allege that he helped his son, Robert Crimo III, obtain a gun license despite the fact that the then-19-year-old had made threats of violence.
Under Illinois law, 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds can only obtain a Firearm Owner's Identification card with parental sponsorship. The prosecution argues that Crimo Jr.'s sponsorship of his son's application makes him morally and legally responsible for the consequences of his son's actions.
Crimo Jr.'s attorney, George Gomez, had argued that the law's lack of specificity makes it impossible to determine what actions qualify as criminal reckless conduct. He also claimed that the law does not define the term "cause," which could lead to wrongful associations between signing a gun license application and a shooting years later.
Garson S. Fischer, an assistant Illinois attorney general, countered that the law is not overly broad and that similar wording is used in many state criminal laws. He argued that the term “cause” is not constitutionally vague and that the law is limited to reckless conduct that results in great bodily harm.
While it is relatively rare for parents to face charges for their children's actions in mass shootings, this case comes in the wake of other high-profile incidents where parents have been held accountable. The parents of Ethan Crumbley, the accused Oxford, Michigan, school shooter, are facing involuntary manslaughter charges for buying him a gun before the alleged attack. Similarly, the father of Waffle House shooter Travis Reinking was found guilty of returning a gun to his son, who went on to kill four people.
Robert Crimo Jr., a former mayoral candidate and convenience store owner in Highland Park, has been released on a $50,000 bond since his December arrest. While his trial approaches, the trial for his son, who has been indicted on 117 felony counts, has not yet been scheduled.
The shooting during the Fourth of July parade shocked the community of Highland Park. The shooter, then 21 years old, meticulously planned the attack, wearing women's clothing to obscure his facial tattoos and blend into the crowd. He confessed to the attack and also revealed that he had considered carrying out another shooting in Wisconsin.
The victims of the shooting were Katherine Goldstein, Irina McCarthy, Kevin McCarthy, Jacquelyn Sundheim, Stephen Straus, Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, and Eduardo Uvaldo. A dozen others were injured in the attack.
The court proceedings are set to be closely watched, as the judge announced that he will allow a live television camera in the courtroom throughout the trial. However, he reserved the right to prevent the recording of certain evidence or testimony that could be prejudicial to the shooter's case.
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