Mistrial in 2002 Johnsburg murder, retrial vowed

  • McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi, left, and Assistant State's Attorney Michael Combs discuss the mistrial in the 2002 murder of Brian Carrick. Combs said the state plans to try Casciaro again.

      McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi, left, and Assistant State's Attorney Michael Combs discuss the mistrial in the 2002 murder of Brian Carrick. Combs said the state plans to try Casciaro again. Harry Hitzeman | Staff Photographer

Updated 2/1/2012 5:06 PM

After more than nine years and two trials, no one has been held responsible for the death of 17-year-old Brian Carrick of Johnsburg.

Despite 12 hours of deliberation over two days, a mistrial was declared Wednesday afternoon for Mario Casciaro, who was accused of first-degree murder in Carrick's 2002 death.


His body has not been found.

The jury informed McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather it had reached an impasse and could not reach a verdict. Both sides are due in court March 16 for a status hearing and prosecutors vowed to retry the case.

"We'll just do it again. We'll just do it 'til it's done," said Brian's father, William Carrick, who added he was not necessarily disappointed in the mistrial because he knew it was possible. "I don't feel vengeful. There's no vengeance. But you know what -- I'd like to see justice done. I'm looking for a conviction (of Casciaro), pure and simple. He was the one who set the wheels in motion."

The jury considered the case for about eight hours Tuesday before resuming deliberations Wednesday morning.

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.

During the trial, which began last week in Woodstock before Prather, prosecutors argued that Carrick was a good kid who started selling marijuana for Casciaro and was "in over his head." He owed Casciaro at least $400 and Casciaro called Shane Lamb, now 27, of Lake Bluff, to scare Carrick into paying up, prosecutors said.

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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.

"(The mistrial) doesn't take anything away from our resolve. We're going to move forward on this matter," added McHenry County Assistant State's Attorney Michael Combs, the lead prosecutor in the case. "Until Brian Carrick's body is found, this is going to be an open investigation."

Casciaro was indicted in 2010 in Carrick's death and will remain free on $500,000 bond while the case was pending. He also was acquitted of perjury charges in 2008 of lying to a grand jury that was investigating Carrick's disappearance.

During this trial, defense attorney Brian Telander attacked the credibility of Lamb, who has been to prison several times. Telander said Lamb got a "free murder" when he made 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 he was very surprised that all the jurors didn't see that Lamb was being "very untruthful."

"(Casciaro) was extremely nervous (during deliberations). He was concerned there was not going to be a resolution," Telander said. "He certainly expected to be found not guilty."

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, was charged with concealing a homicidal death in the Carrick case, but prosecutors dismissed those charges in January 2010, citing a need for further investigation.

Combs declined to comment on if there is anything he would have done differently during this trial. Telander said he wouldn't change a thing in his client's defense, but said he'd take another fresh look at the case.

"Frankly, we're starting over," Telander said. "I'm very disappointed because I thought the trial issues were pretty obvious."

If convicted, Casciaro faced 20 years to 60 years in prison. Now, family members and supporters from both sides will have to endure another lengthy trial, which might not happen until later this year.

"If anything, it's a little bit of a training exercise," said William Carrick, who was joined by seven of Brian's 13 siblings at the courthouse. "(Prosecutors will) stick with it 'til it's done one way or the other ... The question I'd like answered is what they did with the body, and I don't think we'll ever find that out."

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