Father of Highland Park shooting suspect will stand trial; judge denies motion to dismiss charges


A Lake County judge on Monday declined to dismiss charges against the father of the man suspected of killing seven people at Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade last year.

Judge George Strickland ruled against Robert Crimo Jr.’s motion to dismiss charges of reckless conduct for helping his son, Robert Crimo III, obtain a gun license even though the then-19-year-old had threatened violence.

Crimo Jr.’s bench trial is set to begin Nov. 6.

He was charged last December with seven counts of reckless conduct, one count for each person killed at the parade. He has pleaded not guilty.

Earlier this month, his attorney argued that the law cited in charges against Crimo Jr. was unconstitutionally vague and that prosecutors were interpreting “reckless conduct” too broadly. The shooting happened years after he signed the gun ownership application, defense attorney George Gomez argued.

Gomez also argued that Crimo Jr.’s signature on the gun ownership application was protected free speech.

Gomez also contended the case should be dismissed because Crimo Jr. was charged more than three years after the application was signed, which is beyond the statute of limitations.

The judge disagreed Monday on all three points.

Strickland said the case is not beyond the statute of limitation because the “last act that took place in this transaction” was the Fourth of July shooting, which happened just over a year ago.

The judge also ruled that Crimo Jr.’s act of signing the gun ownership application was not protected free speech. “The mere fact that something is uttered or written or otherwise reproduced does not necessarily mean that is protected by the First Amendment,” Strickland said.

Strickland also said the criminal law applied by prosecutors was not too broad. That flawed interpretation of the reckless conduct statute would prohibit otherwise legal conduct, the judge said.

He also ruled that a TV camera would be allowed to capture the trial’s proceedings.

Law experts have said prosecutors may struggle to obtain a guilty verdict because it is difficult to prove that adults can reasonably foresee the actions taken by their children.

“Parents who help their kids get weapons of war are morally and legally responsible when those kids hurt others with those weapons,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said after a grand jury indicted Crimo Jr. in February.

His son, now 22, remains jailed on 113 felony counts. His trial date has not been set, but a judge said she may set a date during his next hearing on Sept. 11.


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