Judge denies dismissal motion in Crimo Jr. trial

By Gregory Harutunian for Chronicle Media

George Gomez, defense attorney, argues a motion as Robert Crimo Jr. and attorney Ellana Myers listen. (AP photo/Nam Y. Huh, pool)

The trial of Robert Crimo Jr., father of the accused Highland Park July 4 parade shooter, will move forward to its Nov. 6 docket date. Lake County Circuit Court Judge George D. Strickland denied three arguments that sought to dismiss the case and indictments, and also set in motion a media request to broadcast the trial in real time.

Crimo Jr. is charged with seven felony counts of reckless conduct stemming from his affidavit in sponsoring his son’s application for a firearm owner’s identification card. The son, Robert Crimo III, is charged in a separate case of killing seven individuals and injuring several dozen more people using a semi-automatic weapon, purchased with the card.

The nearly 90-minute hearing Monday addressed three motions presented by defense attorney, George Gomez, which challenged the indictments at a case management session, earlier this month.

Strickland determined the charges involving the completed application did not violate the defendant’s constitutional freedom of speech. “Anything said, written, or captured by a person doesn’t mean it is protected from expression,” he said. “The affidavit is not an expression but a statement of fact … violation of free speech is overbroad.”

The issue of the statute defining reckless conduct as “being overbroad to prohibit legal conduct” was also denied.

The third motion governing the statute of limitations as a cause for case dismissal was similarly denied, and vigorously debated.

“The act of the application was Dec. 16, 2019 … whereas the action of this complaint was filed to commence prosecution,” said Gomez. “The statute of limitations has expired.”

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart stated, “Our position is that the last act of seven indictments from Highland Park (July 4, 2022), starts the statute period, until July 4, 2025. This is a continuing offense, which the court has laid as a central cause of this case.”

Gomez noted, “A continuing issue … an action that begins with a time signature, and to believe this is an ongoing situation, that 10 years, 20 years from now, it is (possible) that any act can be indicted at any point in time?”

Strickland likened the time frame to the completion of a transaction.

“As a continuing act versus the death that had not occurred yet does not diminish the person’s due process. All he did was fill out the form and the transaction was not complete until people had died. The last act was done by the son, the last act of the transaction … the defense motion for dismissal on the statute of limitations is denied.”

Strickland also approved video transmission for the trial itself, although logistics are still being worked out. ABC Chicago News was granted approval for the camera broadcast pool, for livestreaming and use of film clips. Strickland will maintain authority to censor the feed, with the concern being that certain witnesses have indicated an unwillingness to have their testimony broadcast.

The Associated Press will continue to provide the only still photography of courtroom proceedings, for the media pool.

Both the prosecution and defense attorneys stated they have notified their preliminary lists of witnesses, and are awaiting a full tally of responses.

Strickland set an Oct. 6 date for the filing of last-minute stipulations, deadlines for information exchanges, and advising the court of any issues.

Another hearing is slated for Oct. 30, to resolve any final matters, prior to the start of the Nov. 6 trial.