Robert E. Crimo III, who was in a wheelchair, is pushed into the courtroom by a corrections officer for a hearing in front of Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti Wednesday where he was expected to plead guilty to the Highland Park parade shooting but then refused to enter into the negotiated agreement. | Photo: Nam Y. Huh (AP/Pool)

Attorneys and families of victims said they were disappointed that the accused Highland Park parade mass shooter abruptly refused to go forward with a plea deal Wednesday, calling it “absolutely disgusting.”

Crimo III, 23, of Highwood, appeared in a Lake County courtroom in a wheelchair at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday for a change of plea hearing in front of Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti.

He was charged in July 2022 with 21 counts of first-degree murder, 48 counts of attempted murder and 48 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.

Prosecutors announced in court that Crimo III would be pleading guilty to 55 charges in total.

Robert E. Crimo III (left) talks to Lake County Assistant Public Defender Anton Trizna (right) as he appears before Judge Victoria Rossetti at the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan Wednesday where he was expected to plead guilty to the Highland Park parade shooting but then refused to enter into the negotiated agreement. | Photo: Nam Y. Huh (AP/Pool)

Those charges included seven counts of first-degree murder — one for each victim killed — as well as 48 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm — representing each victim injured — as part of the negotiated plea agreement.

Prosecutors said the plea meant that Crimo III would be sentenced to mandatory natural life in the Illinois Department of Corrections and would not be eligible for supervised release.

Rossetti asked Crimo III to confirm that the negotiation was what he went over with his attorneys prior to the hearing.

Crimo III stared at the judge and did not speak. Crimo’s two attorneys then leaned over and both spoke to him quietly.

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart (right) and Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Ben Dillon (left) prepare before Robert E. Crimo III appears before Judge Victoria Rossetti at the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan Wednesday. | Photo: Nam Y. Huh (AP/Pool)

One of his public defenders, Gregory Ticsay, told Rossetti that they had spoken to Crimo III previously about the plea.

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Ticsay said he did not have a reason for Crimo’s lack of response to the judge’s question.

The judge called a recess and Crimo III and his attorneys went into a private area to speak together.

When the attorneys and Crimo III returned, Crimo III told Rossetti that he did not wish to enter into the plea agreement.

Robert E. Crimo III’s public defenders Gregory Ticsay (right) and Anton Trizna (left) talk before Crimo III appears before Judge Victoria Rossetti at the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan Wednesday. | Photo: Nam Y. Huh (AP/Pool)

Crimo III is scheduled to appear in court again for a case management hearing on August 28. His trial is set for February 24.

A press conference was held by several law firms representing survivors and victims’ families from the parade shooting following the court hearing.

Attorney Antonio Romanucci said “absolute unadulterated evil” was seen in the courtroom, referring to Crimo III.

Romanucci said Crimo III made a calculated effort to continue the suffering of the victims’ families and survivors of the shooting. “It’s absolutely disgusting.”

“We came to court today in hopes that we could put this out of our mind. We have Fourth of July coming up and it will be two years. All I wanted was to be able to fully grieve my mom without the looming trial knowing that he was going to spend the rest of his life in jail,” said Leah Sundheim, whose mother Jacquelyn was killed in the shooting.

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Robert E. Crimo III, who was in a wheelchair, is pushed into the courtroom by a corrections officer for a hearing in front of Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti Wednesday where he was expected to plead guilty to the Highland Park parade shooting but then refused to enter into the negotiated agreement. | Photo: Nam Y. Huh (AP/Pool)

“And instead we were yet again shown his complete and blatant disregard for humans, or anyone, for all of us,” she said, adding that her family now has to wait months for more court hearings and unknowns until the February trial.

Attorney Lance Northcutt said the hearing was “nothing more than a revictimization” of every family who has endured the shooting.

“We knew this could happen. We were hoping for the best but we are patient with the court system and for the trial to happen,” the daughter of Eduardo Uvaldo said.

“My dad was someone who loved his family and we’ve stuck together through all of this. We’re going to keep sticking together and being there for each other,” she said.

Romanucci said there was disappointment and shock when Crimo III made the decision not to enter the plea agreement.

A hearing was held in front of Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti Wednesday where Robert E. Crimo III was expected to plead guilty to the Highland Park parade shooting but then refused to enter into the negotiated agreement. | Photo: Nam Y. Huh (AP/Pool)

“He enjoyed the theater today. When he looked back… he wasn’t looking at his family. He was seeing who was there to observe him. He knew he had an audience and knew he was pulling at strings,” Romanucci said.

Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that Crimo III had informed correctional staff prior to the hearing that he was nervous.

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Crimo III told the staff he was unsure if he would be uneasy on his feet, which prompted correctional staff to use a wheelchair to transport him into the courtroom, Covelli said.

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart made a brief statement and said his office has worked closely with the victims over the past few days and weeks in anticipation of the hearing.

“We will continue to support them. The entire trial team and group of victim support specialists met with victims and survivors for as long as they wanted today, and we will be ready for trial,” Rinehart said.

Numerous police departments and SWAT teams respond on July 4, 2022, to the area of Second Street and Central Avenue in Highland Park following a shooting that left dozens of people injured and seven people killed. | Photo: Woo-Sung Shim / Lake and McHenry County Scanner

Crimo III is accused of opening fire on paradegoers attending the Fourth of July parade near Second Street and Central Avenue in Highland Park on July 4, 2022.

Prosecutors previously said Crimo admitted to “looking down his sights” of his Smith & Wesson M&P 15 semi-automatic rifle before opening fire on the Highland Park crowd.

Crimo told investigators he fired two full 30-round magazines before loading a third 30-round magazine and firing.

Seven people were killed and dozens of others were shot. 83 spent shell casings were recovered at the scene.

Crimo has been held in the Lake County Jail without bond since July 6, 2022.