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Grocery store worker gets 26 years in prison for 2002 murder

Mario Casciaro

Mario Casciaro

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Updated: December 16, 2013 6:25AM



More than a decade after McHenry County teenager Brian Carrick went missing, a man convicted of his murder was sentenced to 26 years in prison Thursday.

The murder “destroyed two good families,” McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather said before sentencing Mario Casciaro, whose family co-owned Val’s Foods, where prosecutors say Carrick was killed in a walk-in freezer. “This case is tragic, it’s heartbreaking and it is senseless.”

The 17-year-old Carrick vanished Dec. 20, 2002, following a dispute with Casciaro over an unpaid marijuana debt. Although spatters of Carrick’s blood were discovered in a cooler, hallway and trash container of the store where both men worked, Carrick’s body was never found.

Last spring, a jury convicted Casciaro, 30, of orchestrating the killing. A previous trial ended with a hung jury.

Before he was sentenced, Casciaro addressed the packed courtroom, maintaining his innocence.

“I swear to you from the depth of my soul ... I had nothing to do with what happened to Brian,” Casciaro said. “This is not Colombia, and I am not Pablo Escobar.”

Later, when Casciaro was led out of court, he blew his family a kiss. Casciaro intends to appeal the sentence, his attorney Brian Telander said.

Prosecutors said during the trial that Casciaro’s friends and his own words tied him to the mysterious disappearance and presumed death of the teenager from Johnsburg, a village of about 7,000.

But the defense ripped their case because it rested on the testimony of two convicted felons who were each granted immunity for their cooperation.

One witness, Shane Lamb, testified that he beat Carrick in the freezer after Casciaro asked him to confront the teen about the unpaid marijuana debt.

The other, convicted drug dealer Christopher “Priest” Amen, testified that Casciaro told him “I make people disappear” during a 2006 argument in a McHenry tavern.

Throughout the proceedings, members of both families have vigilantly attended court and publicly expressed their frustration, anger and grief through the many twists of the case.

“It is unfair,” Casciaro’s brother Eugene said after the sentencing. “Nobody has closure.”

On that, the two families agree.

After Casciaro was convicted last spring, Carrick’s father told a reporter, “Justice has been served.” But on Thursday, William Carrick said he had come to regret those remarks.

“This has been a tragic, tragic case,” Carrick said while leaving court. “I don’t know that there can be justice in a case like this.”

Email: bslodysko@suntimes.com

Twitter: @BrianSlodysko



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