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32 years in Fenger beating death

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Silvonus Shannon is a soft-spoken, helpful guy who doesn’t hold a grudge, his relatives and former English teacher testified Thursday.

That’s why they were taken aback when they saw the young South Side man take a flying leap before kicking 16-year-old Derrion Albert in the head in the infamous videotaped beating outside Fenger High School.

“I was totally in shock,” said Shannon’s uncle, Diallo Smith, in asking Cook County Judge Nicholas Ford to give Shannon a lenient sentence for his role in Albert’s murder.

But a stern Ford ordered Shannon be held behind bars for 32 years, noting that Shannon crossed a “hard line in the sand” when he joined the mob in attacking Albert well after the teenager was sprawled out on the pavement.

In a brawl, “once a man is down, [the rule is] he wasn’t assaulted anymore. He’s out of it,” Ford said, agreeing with prosecutor James Papa’s assessment that Albert was “helpless” on the afternoon of Sept. 24, 2009.

Shannon, 20, bowed his head down and wiped away tears in the courtroom where Ford chastised him for not walking away when the punches were thrown in a fight between students from Altgeld Gardens and a neighborhood known as “The Ville.”

Minutes before he was sentenced, Shannon turned toward Albert’s family and apologized.

“Being pegged as this ‘monster’ and ‘murderer’ that some people think of me, often it makes me cry and gets the best of me,” he said, reading from a poem he composed.

“ . . . I do have decency and I have great empathy for the whole Albert family. They should know I send my deepest condolences to them and I mean that genuinely.”

Shannon’s attorney, Robert Byman, who vowed to appeal the conviction, told Ford that while Shannon may have “snapped,” his actions leading to the honor student’s death lasted a mere 11 seconds.

Ford allowed Shannon to embrace his weeping mother before sheriff deputies escorted him away.

Albert’s grandfather, Norman Golliday, said he thinks Shannon and the others charged with his grandson’s death might have behaved differently if they had known the harsh consequences.

“He [Shannon] may have been sincere. I won’t doubt that, but it doesn’t help us. He still gets to see his family on visitor’s day, and he still gets to graduate from high school. Derrion can’t graduate,” Golliday said.

In December, a juvenile boy was found delinquent, or guilty, in Albert’s murder, and last month Eric Carson, 18, was sentenced to 26 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to murder.

Two others, Eugene Riley and Lapoleon Colbert, are scheduled to stand trial in May.

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