Re-trial in McHenry murder heads to jury - FOX 32 News Chicago

Re-trial in McHenry murder heads to jury

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WOODSTOCK, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Mario Casciaro orchestrated the death of missing teenager Brian Carrick by using convicted felon Shane Lamb as "a blunt force instrument" to threaten him over a drug debt, McHenry County prosecutors said Tuesday.

"He introduces Shane Lamb into the equation. He's using him as a weapon," Assistant State's Attorney Michael Combs argued as he asked jurors to convict the 29-year-old Casciaro of murdering Carrick.

But Casciaro's lawyer contended there's little evidence backing that claim and said Lamb's trial testimony about Carrick's 2002 disappearance contradicts other information he previously had given.

"He can't tell the truth about anything. His name should have been Pinocchio," defense attorney Brian Telander said of Lamb, who received immunity from prosecutors for his testimony.

The six-man, six-woman jury began deliberating about noon following four days of testimony in Casciaro's second trial.

A jury last year was unable to reach a verdict in Casciaro's first trial.

Carrick, 17, vanished on Dec. 20, 2002, from the Johnsburg grocery store where he worked with Casciaro and Lamb, who was a key prosecution witness at both trials.

The teen's body has never been found, though spots and smears of his blood were found in a cooler, hallway and trash container at Val's Foods following his disappearance.

Lamb testified earlier in the trial that Casciaro asked him to "talk" to Carrick about the drug debt, though the 240-pound Lamb said he lost his temper and punched the teen until he fell to the floor.

Lamb, a 28-year-old ex-con who's served four prison terms, insisted he doesn't know what happened to the 135-pound Carrick after that because Casciaro ordered him to leave.

Two defense witnesses, including a McHenry County attorney, testified Lamb approached Casciaro at a bar last summer following the first trial and said his testimony was bogus.

Lamb claimed in the Aug. 2. conversation at Blarney Island that he had been pressured and coached by prosecutors to implicate Casciaro in Carrick's disappearance, said witnesses Stephen Denson and attorney Edward Donahue.

When he testified, Lamb admitted talking to Casciaro at Blarney Island, but denied saying his testimony was coerced. Instead, he said he blamed Casciaro for dragging him into the notorious case.

Telander repeatedly questioned why blood from a third store worker, Robert Render, also was found in the cooler.

Lamb testified Render wasn't in the cooler when he and Casciaro confronted Carrick.

Render was expected to be called as a defense witness but died last year of an apparent drug overdose.

Though Telander acknowledged Carrick likely is dead, he said there's not enough evidence to convict Casciaro of the teen's disappearance or murder.

"There's not enough blood, and we don't know what happened because we can't believe Shane," Telander said.

Prosecutors argued that testimony from two other witnesses corroborated Lamb's account of Carrick's disappearance.

Christopher Amen said Casciaro — a former friend — threatened him during a barroom argument several years later, warning him "I make people disappear."

And Alan Lippert said Casciaro told him in 2006 after a night of heavy drinking that Lamb was only supposed to "scare" Carrick.

"Things got out of hand," Lippert said Casciaro told him.

Casciaro is responsible for Carrick's death because he "set this chain of events into place," Combs told jurors.

Turning in the courtroom, the prosecutor gestured towards Carrick's father, William, and his three siblings sitting in the first row of the gallery.

"And this family here, never got to bury their son, their brother," Combs said.

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