A father is asking a judge to dismiss his case in which authorities say he helped his son obtain a gun license three years before the younger man fatally shot seven people at a 2022 July 4 parade in suburban Chicago. Ilinois prosecutors charged Robert Crimo Jr. under a unconstitutionally vague law, his lawyers argued in Waukegan, north of Highland Park where the shooting occurred. If Lake County Judge George Strickland allows the case to proceed, Crimo Jr.'s bench trial would start Nov. 6. Crimo Jr. has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of reckless conduct, one for each person killed. Prosecutors said he helped his son, Robert Crimo III, obtain a gun license even though the then-19-year-old had threatened violence, the Associated Press reports. The section of the state law invoked to charge Crimo Jr. says “a person commits reckless conduct when he or she, by any means lawful or unlawful, recklessly performs an act or acts that ... cause great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another person.”
A defense filing argues the law’s lack of specificity makes it impossible to know what actions qualify as criminal reckless conduct. They also say it offers no definition of “cause,” opening the way for prosecutors to wrongly link the signing of a gun-license application to a shooting years later. “Here, the reckless conduct charge ... specifically seeks to criminalize the Defendant’s lawful act of signing a truthful affidavit,” the filing says. It adds that, until Crimo Jr., “Illinois has never prosecuted an individual for signing a truthful affidavit under oath.” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said after the father’s arrest that the accusations against him are based on sponsorship of his son’s application for a gun license in December 2019. Authorities say Crimo III tried to kill himself in April 2019 and in September 2019 was accused by a family member of making threats to “kill everyone.” “Parents who help their kids get weapons of war are morally and legally responsible when those kids hurt others with those weapons,” Rinehart said. Legal experts have said it is rare for a parent of a shooting suspect to face charges because they are difficult to prove.