Illinois man accused of Fourth of July shooting backs out of plea deal

FILE PHOTO: Highland Park shooting trial

By Brendan O'Brien

CHICAGO (Reuters) - An Illinois man accused of opening fire on spectators watching an Independence Day parade in a Chicago suburb two years ago backed out of a plea deal on Wednesday, local media reported.

The suspect, Robert Crimo, 23, had been expected to plead guilty to seven counts of murder and 48 counts of aggravated battery during a court hearing in Lake County, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing the local state's attorney.

But during the hearing, Crimo did not respond when asked if he agreed with the guilty plea. Crimo, who was in a wheelchair, was then wheeled out of the courtroom to discuss the matter with his attorneys. When he returned, he answered "no" to whether he accepted the terms of the agreement, the Tribune reported.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys were not immediately available for comment.

He was to face a sentence of life in prison without parole, plus 30 years for each count of aggravated battery, according to the Tribune.

Crimo is accused of climbing out the roof of a building in downtown Highland Park, a suburb 25 miles (40 km) north of Chicago, and opening fire on spectators and participants at a Fourth of July parade in 2022.

A synagogue teacher, a Mexican grandfather, and the parents of a two-year-old were among the victims. Crimo confessed to the shooting, according to prosecutors.

A trial is set for February 2025.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)