Re-trial of man accused of killing teen could favor the defense
BY DAN ROZEK Staff Reporter email@example.com March 22, 2013 5:56PM
Mario Casciaro | Sun-TImes Media file photo
Updated: April 25, 2013 7:11AM
A second attempt by McHenry County prosecutors to convict Mario Casciaro of murdering a teenager who vanished in 2002 is likely to be tougher than the first time.
Their first try ended last year with a jury failing to determine whether Casciaro killed 17-year-old Brian Carrick in the Johnsburg grocery store where both worked, then disposed of his body.
Prosecutors get another chance when Casciaro’s second murder trial begins Monday, but new legal problems involving star witness Shane Lamb and the unexpected death of another potential witness could make their task even more difficult.
And prosecutors still face the same challenge that hampered them during the January 2012 trial — convincing jurors that Carrick was slain even though his body was never found.
Only a few drops of his blood were discovered in a cooler and back hallway at Val’s Foods after his disappearance Dec. 20, 2002.
“How do you prove someone’s dead without a body? It can be done, but it’s difficult,” said retired Cook County Judge Sam Amirante, who’s now in private practice.
Prosecutors in Casciaro’s first trial relied largely on testimony from Lamb, a beefy felon who testified he was recruited in 2002 to help force Carrick to repay a small drug debt owed to Casciaro.
During a confrontation in the store cooler, Lamb testified he punched Carrick until the teen collapsed, then was ordered to leave by Casciaro — who never disclosed what happened after that.
But Lamb — who took a six-year prison term for an unrelated drug offense in return for his testimony — has offered different versions of that altercation. He also has a lengthy criminal history, which includes having his parole revoked last fall after being arrested following a bar fight.
In another, unusual twist following the first trial, Lamb was captured by security cameras talking to the 29-year-old Casciaro at a Lake County bar last summer.
Several witnesses to that conversation are expected to testify for Casciaro, though defense attorney Brian Telander declined to comment.
But he said a new trial should help Casciaro because Lamb and other prosecution witnesses already have their testimony locked in.
“I think re-trials are always good for the defense because all the prosecution witnesses are on paper,” Telander said.