Jury finds 4th person guilty in Fenger honor student’s murder
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporter email@example.com May 10, 2011 1:42PM
Updated: June 12, 2011 12:28AM
For the fourth time in six months, Derrion Albert’s family quietly watched as a young man was convicted Tuesday in the infamous fatal videotaped beating that sent shockwaves around the world.
“This whole process is toxic for us, going through it over and over again,” Albert’s grandfather Norman Golliday said after a Cook County jury found Eugene Riley guilty of slamming Albert, 16, with a large wooden board and murdering him.
“I don’t believe the healing will start until we’re done with this. Then we can start to get back to some sense of normalcy. The hardest part is we have to do without Derrion.”
Riley’s co-defendant Lapoleon Colbert — the last man awaiting trial in Albert’s death — is expected to face a jury at the end of this month.
Three others — Silvonus Shannon, Eric Carson and a juvenile — have been sentenced for their roles in Sept. 24, 2009, attack near Fenger High School.
Riley took the stand Monday and admitted he attacked Albert as the brawl between students from Altgeld Gardens and an area known as “The Ville” grew more contentious.
“It was a reaction. I was scared. I didn’t know what was going on. I wasn’t thinking,” said Riley, 20.
Riley, who was also whacked with a board wielded by Carson, was only trying to protect his younger brother and simply “made a mistake” when he lashed out at Albert in the melee, Assistant Public Defender David McMahon said in his closing arguments Tuesday.
McMahon also assured the jury that when played in slow motion, the videotape “does not tell the whole story” and “distorts reality” of the confused frenzy.
But Assistant State’s Attorney James Papa and Kathleen Bankhead said Riley easily could have walked away instead of joining the angry mob that descended upon a defenseless Albert.
“Making a mistake isn’t a defense,” Bankhead later said. “ ‘I wasn’t thinking’ isn’t a defense.”