The star witness in the 2002 murder of a Johnsburg teen testified Thursday that he lost his temper and punched Brian Carrick several times after being asked to talk to him about a drug debt.
Shane Lamb, who cut a deal for immunity with prosecutors in exchange for a reduced six-year sentence for cocaine possession, testified that Mario Casciaro called him that night to talk to Carrick about paying Casciaro at least $400.
Casciaro, 28, of McHenry, faces first-degree murder charges in the death of Carrick, 17, who was last seen Dec. 20, 2002 at Val's Finer Foods in Johnsburg.
The body of the Johnsburg High School junior has never been found.
Casciaro had given Carrick 4 ounces of marijuana to sell; Carrick claimed he had neither the drugs nor the cash.
Lamb testified that he and Casciaro went to talk with Carrick in a walk-in produce cooler at the grocery store that Friday, which also was payday. All three worked at the store and all three were selling marijuana.
Lamb, 27, of Lake Bluff, said he lost his temper and punched Carrick, who fell straight backward, and then Casciaro told Lamb to leave. Lamb testified that he didn't know Carrick, who was much smaller than Lamb and was born with a heart condition, could have been killed until he failed to show up for work the next day and was reported missing.
"When I hit (Carrick) he got knocked out. It's not like we went in there to kill someone that night," said Lamb, whose been to prison at least four times.
The murder charge against Casciaro is that he, or someone for whose conduct he was legally responsible, hit Carrick while intimidating him and holding him against his will.
Lamb never testified he was instructed by Casciaro to beat up Carrick.
Defense attorney Brian Telander attacked Lamb's credibility, stressing he lied to investigators numerous times by giving them false leads and could have been charged with perjury for providing different testimony in 2007 and 2010 to grand juries assigned to investigate the case.
"You lied because it wasn't good for you, right?" Telander asked.
"I didn't have immunity at the time," Lamb replied.
In an effort to corroborate Lamb's testimony, prosecutors on Friday plan to call a man named John Neveitt to testify that he was told by Lamb in 2004 that Lamb was supposed to beat up Carrick at Casciaro's request.
Neveitt, 23, of McHenry is in the McHenry County jail awaiting trial on drug and burglary charges.
Telander objected to the move, allowed by Judge Sharon Prather, saying it was "improper. It's a reversible error (on appeal)."
The trial is expected to run into next week.