Key witness in McHenry murder admitted lying at first trial, defense says at re-trial
BY DAN ROZEK Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org March 26, 2013 1:08PM
Mario Casciaro | Sun-TImes Media file photo
Updated: April 28, 2013 6:32AM
The chance encounter between two men linked to the bizarre 2002 disappearance of McHenry County teen Brian Carrick came last summer at a bar ironically named Blarney Island.
Shane Lamb on Tuesday acknowledged talking to Mario Casciaro at the Chain O’Lakes tavern about Carrick, but said he never admitted offering bogus testimony against Casciaro.
Lamb claimed he instead blamed Casciaro during their conversation for dragging him into the notorious case.
“I said it’s his fault I got in trouble,” Lamb, now 28, told jurors hearing Casciaro’s second murder trial.
Lamb, a 240-pound convicted felon, is a critical witness as McHenry County prosecutors try for a second time to convict Casciaro of orchestrating Carrick’s disappearance and presumed death.
At Casciaro’s first trial in January 2012, jurors failed to reach a verdict, prompting Judge Sharon Prather to declare a mistrial.
On Tuesday, Lamb again admitted punching Carrick unconscious in the cooler of a Johnsburg grocery store while trying to collect a small drug debt the 17-year-old owed Casciaro.
But Lamb, offering similar testimony as he did in the first trial, insisted he doesn’t know what ultimately happened to the teen because Casciaro quickly ordered him out of the cooler at Val’s Foods.
Two defense witnesses, however, are expected to testify Lamb admitted during the Blarney Island conversation that he falsely implicated Casciaro because prosecutors warned he would be charged with Carrick’s murder if he didn’t.
“I just said what they told me to say. They came at me with a murder rap,” Lamb said during that conversation, according to defense attorney Brian Telander.
Lamb repeatedly denied Tuesday that he said anything like that to the now 29-year-old Casciaro during their brief August talk at the tavern.
“Did you ever make a statement that I coached you what to say?” Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Combs asked Lamb.
“No,” Lamb quickly replied.
Lamb said he was at Blarney Island with friends when someone approached him, saying Casciaro was at the bar and wanted to talk to him.
Lamb, who has served four prison terms for crimes that include attempted murder and aggravated battery, said he talked briefly with Casciaro because he didn’t want any trouble.
“I didn’t want to start any problems disagreeing with him, I just wanted to get out of there,” Lamb said.
Casciaro offered to put him in touch with an attorney who could help him with the case, Lamb said.
“I told them to talk to my lawyer,” said Lamb, denying he agreed to meet with the attorney allegedly suggested by Casciaro.
While he disappeared Dec. 20th, 2002, Carrick’s body has never been found, though drops of his blood were found in the cooler and back hallway at the grocery store.
DNA tests also show blood drops in the cooler belonged to another store employee, Robert Render — though Lamb again testified Render wasn’t present during the altercation.
Render was expected to be called as a witness at the trial, but he died last year of a suspected drug overdose.
Combs himself called Lamb “a bad, bad guy,” but said Casciaro triggered the deadly confrontation by sending Lamb to collect money Carrick owed him for marijuana.
“When Brian didn’t pay, he sicced his henchman, Shane Lamb, on him,” Combs said.
Combs said Casciaro later told one friend the confrontation with Carrick had “gotten out of hand” and bragged to another acquaintance “I make people disappear.”
“And he did — Brian Carrick is gone,” Combs said.