CHICAGO (CN) — Taking a last-minute plea deal from the state, Robert Crimo Jr., the father of accused Highland Park mass shooter Robert Crimo III, pleaded guilty to criminal reckless conduct on Monday morning, averting the bench trial set to begin the same day in the Lake County circuit court.
As part of the deal Crimo Jr. agreed to serve 60 days in county jail and surrender his guns and ammunition, as well as his Illinois Firearm Owner ID card, Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart said in court. The state will also place him under a two-year probation period with 100 hours of public service.
In exchange, prosecutors downgraded Crimo Jr.'s seven felony reckless conduct charges — one for each person killed in his son's July 4, 2022, shooting spree — to misdemeanors.
State prosecutors charged Crimo Jr. in December 2022 over his sponsorship of his son's Illinois FOID card three year earlier, when Crimo III was still a minor. Crimo Jr. sponsored the December 2019 application even though police had responded to several violent incidents involving the teenager only months before.
Prosecutors claim Crimo III then carried out the Highland Park 2022 Independence Day mass shooting using the assault weapons he purchased legally with the FOID card between 2020 and 2021.
Crimo III was 21 years old at the time of the attack. He faces 117 felony charges which include multiple counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder and aggravated battery. He pleaded not guilty to all of them in August 2022.
Monday's plea was a reversal for Crimo Jr., who had pleaded not guilty to his own charges in February 2023. He maintained that plea up until the last-minute deal Rinehart said he reached with the state over the weekend.
Rinehart said the families of Robert Crimo III's mass shooting victims had been consulted "extensively" on the deal. During Monday's hearing he read out the names of all seven of those killed: Katherine Goldstein, 64; Irina McCarthy, 35; Kevin McCarthy, 37; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63; Stephen Straus, 88; Nicolas Toledo-Zargoza, 78; and Eduardo Uvaldo, 69.
The court accepted the terms of the plea deal after Crimo Jr., looking weary at the defense table, confirmed he understood all of its legal implications. Crimo Jr. will begin serving his jail sentence on Nov. 15.
A trial date for Crimo III's own case has not yet been set.
Both the elder and younger Crimos' actions set off a political firestorm in Illinois. In the wake of the mass shooting, multiple state leaders called for stricter regulations on FOID card applications and a ban on assault weapons.
State legislators and Democratic Gov. J.B Pritzker followed through on the call for a ban this past January when they passed a law outlawing, with some exceptions, the sale or ownership of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines beginning in 2024.
The bans have since endured multiple challenges at the state and federal level. The Illinois Supreme Court upheld the bans this past August, while the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, after hearing oral arguments on the bans in June, did likewise this past Friday, vacating an injunction against the bans issued in April by the Southern Illinois Federal Court District.Follow @djbyrnes1
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