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Article updated: 11/15/2013 5:14 AM

Fox Lake man sentenced to 26 years in 2002 Johnsburg murder

By Harry Hitzeman

A McHenry County judge sentenced Mario Casciaro to 26 years in prison Thursday for the 2002 killing of a missing Johnsburg teen.

Casciaro, 30, of Fox Lake, was convicted last April of killing Brian Carrick, 17, who was last seen Dec. 20, 2002, at a grocery store owned by Casciaro's parents.

"This case is tragic, it's heartbreaking, it is senseless," Judge Sharon Prather said. "These actions have destroyed two families, two good families. The Carrick family will never see their son, their loved one, again and the Casciaro family is going to lose their son for a long time."

Casciaro faced up to 60 years in prison.

Prosecutors asked for a 30-year term while defense attorney Brian Telander requested the minimum of 20 years.

McHenry County prosecutors argued that Carrick owed Casciaro money from selling marijuana for him, and Casciaro and another man went to scare Carrick into paying up.

Casciaro and Shane Lamb brought Carrick into a produce cooler at the now defunct Val's Grocery, where they all worked. Lamb lost his temper and punched Carrick, who fell straight back onto the floor, according to trial testimony. Casciaro told Lamb -- who testified in exchange for a reduced sentence on unrelated drug charges -- to leave and Carrick was never seen again.

Carrick's body has not been found, but technicians testified they were 99.9 percent positive that blood collected around the cooler and a trash compactor was from a child born to the Carricks.

"(Casciaro) chose to surround himself with these people. He's going to have to pay the consequences for that," said Michael Combs, McHenry County assistant state's attorney and lead prosector in the case.

Carrick's family members testified Thursday about how their lives have been affected by Brian's death.

Friends and relatives of Casciaro shared anecdotes about how he gave up law school to run his parents' new grocery store, treated all people with respect, and regularly donated to charities.

Casciaro took the witness stand before he was sentenced.

He lashed out at prosecutors, questioning why another man's blood was found in the produce cooler, denying he was some drug kingpin and attacking witnesses against him, saying "their testimonies were purchased with leniency.

"I cannot take responsibility for something that I did not do," Casciaro said. "Both families have paid a terrible price in the name of justice. I swear to you (Carrick's father, William), from the depths of my heart and soul, I had nothing to do with Brian's disappearance."

The April trial was the third time prosecutors sought to hold Casciaro accountable for Carrick's death.

A mistrial was declared after a hung jury in Casciaro's first murder trial in early 2012.

Casciaro also was found not guilty in August 2009 on charges he committed perjury in connection with Carrick's disappearance.

Casciaro must serve 100 percent of his sentence. He will receive credit for 24 months spent in jail while the case was pending.

Outside court, William Carrick said he was glad the case in his son's death was finally over.

"I'm pleased with the sentence. This has been a tragic, tragic case and I certainly don't have any words of wisdom," he said. "I don't know if there can be justice in a case like this. It's just too crazy."

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