A jury will resume deliberations this morning in the trial of Mario Casciaro, a McHenry man who is accused of first-degree murder in the 2002 death of Brian Carrick of Johnsburg.
The jury mulled over the case for about eight hours Tuesday before being sent home for the night.
At 7 p.m. Tuesday, the jury had four questions that were law-related. Attorneys from both sides agreed they could not answer the questions and jurors should resume their deliberations.
Carrick, a 17-year-old Johnsburg High School student, was last known to have been seen alive Dec. 20, 2002, at Val's Foods in Johnsburg; his body has not been found.
"This is about justice for Brian Carrick. That's why we're here," Michael Combs, the lead prosecutor on the case, told the jury. "This was an ugly crime. No one should ever have to be killed in a produce cooler over money for marijuana."
During the trial, which began last week in Woodstock before Judge Sharon Prather, prosecutors argued that Carrick started selling marijuana for Casciaro and was "in over his head." He owed Casciaro at least $400 and Casciaro called up Shane Lamb, now 27, of Lake Bluff, to scare Carrick into paying up, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors argued that the two confronted Carrick in a produce cooler at Val's, where they all worked, and Lamb struck the blow that knocked Carrick unconscious. They argued that Casciaro, now 28, was legally responsible for Lamb's actions because he started the sequence of events that ultimately led to Carrick's death.
"Brian Carrick never stood a chance when he's faced with Shane Lamb and Mario Casciaro," Combs said. "This was entirely one-sided."
Defense attorney Brian Telander attacked the credibility of Lamb, who has been to prison several times and inked an immunity deal for his testimony and a lesser prison term for a cocaine bust.
Lamb testified last week that Casciaro wanted him to talk to Carrick, that he lost his temper and punched Carrick, who fell straight back onto the concrete cooler floor.
Lamb, who had fed investigators numerous false leads before his testimony in this case, then said Casciaro told him to leave and he didn't realize Carrick could be dead until he was reported missing.
Telander said the immunity deal was like giving Lamb a "free murder."
"Does it trouble you that they cut a deal with a guy who says, 'I killed Brian Carrick?'" Telander asked jurors rhetorically. "(Lamb) could say, 'I stabbed him 100 times' and not face charges."
While investigators found drops of Carrick's blood in the cooler, Telander noted that DNA technicians tested only a few drops and stressed that the blood of a fourth man, Robert Render, who also worked at Val's, was found on the cooler door and in a nearby hallway.
Render, of McHenry, had been charged with concealing a homicidal death in the Carrick case, but prosecutors dismissed those charges in January 2010, citing a need for further investigation.
"Where did that come from -- the blood fairy?" Telander said. "This (DNA) evidence is horrible. The credibility of the witnesses is terrible."
Telander conceded that Carrick is most likely dead, but the state had failed to show how, when, where and by what means he was killed.
Combs acknowledged that Lamb was not a "likable person," but he argued that Lamb told the truth about the night of Dec. 20, 2002.
"Shane implicates himself. That's why he's being truthful. If you're gonna lie, tell a big lie (and blame it on Casciaro)," Combs said. "Brian Carrick is dead. He's not coming back -- there's no doubt about that. We will never know the cause of death because the defendant made sure of that."
Casciaro was indicted in 2010 in Carrick's death and has been free on $500,000 bond while the case was pending.
If convicted, he faces a sentence of 20 years to 60 years in prison. The jury does not have the option of convicting Casciaro on a lesser charge, such as manslaughter.
• Daily Herald staff writer Charles Keeshan contributed to this report.