Accused Highland Park parade shooter requests public defenders be reinstated

By Gregory Harutunian for Chronicle Media

Robert Crimo III appeared in court Friday, Jan. 5, to request that his public defender team be reinstated. (AP Photo/Nam H. Huh, pool)

Robert Crimo III appeared at a case management hearing Friday, Jan. 5, and formally requested that his public defender team be reinstated to represent him at his upcoming criminal trial.

A new hearing was set for Jan. 10, for attorneys to reintroduce themselves to the case and begin an appropriate legal representation.

Crimo III, 23, is charged with 117 felony charges, including 21 counts of first-degree murder stemming from his actions at the July 4 Highland Park parade shootings, accused as the perpetrator of the incident in 2022.

Lake County Circuit Court Judge Victoria Rossetti opened the session, lasting five minutes, by reiterating, “The defendant’s right to counsel, if you so choose.”

Led into the courtroom, handcuffed and in a county jail jumpsuit with shackles, Crimo III replied, “With consideration, I am requesting that the Lake County public defenders be reinstated.”

The request was immediately granted by Rossetti.

On Dec. 11, Crimo III had dismissed his public defender attorney team, led by Anton Trzina, with the intent of representing himself at trial, “pro se.” The term, derived from Latin, is defined by the Lake County 19th Judicial Circuit Court as, “In a civil or criminal matter, a ‘pro se litigant’ is one that acts as their own attorney.

It continues, “The Constitutions of the United States and the State of Illinois not only guarantee the right to be represented by legal counsel, but also afford to each and every citizen the right of self-representation.”

The Friday hearing was initially slated for the final filing of any court motions, with a Jan. 10 date set for a pre-trial hearing. The actual trial date begins Feb. 26, and no changes were entered.

Crimo III is accused of killing seven people and injuring more than 40 people in a shooting rampage, as people lined Central Avenue in Highland Park to watch the Independence Day parade.

Rossetti had outlined the charges and possible sentencing terms at the mid-December hearing.

Counts 1-21 are first-degree murder charges, with each one carrying a sentence of 45 years to life, counts 22-50 are charges of attempted first-degree murder, which each carry a sentence of 26-500 years,” she said. “Counts 70-117 are aggravated battery that each carry a sentence of 6-30 years.”

She also stated that the law allows for each sentence to run consecutively.

It is not known whether Trzina will return as Crimo III’s lead public defender Jan. 10. Prosecutors for the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office had no comment.