A jury on Tuesday could start deliberating the fate of a man being tried for the second time in the 2002 disappearance and presumed murder of a Johnsburg teenager.
Closing arguments are set for Tuesday morning in the first-degree murder trial of Mario Casciaro, 29, who is accused of ordering a friend to confront 17-year-old Brian Carrick about a marijuana-dealing debt on the night the teen was last seen alive more than a decade ago.
Casciaro's first trial ended early last year with a hung jury and mistrial.
As they did then, prosecutors have sought to convince the jury that Casciaro told Shane Lamb, a fellow employee at the grocery store where Casciaro and Carrick worked, to scare Carrick into paying a $500 drug debt he owed to Casciaro.
But the case took another unusual twist Monday when two witnesses took the stand to say that last summer they heard Lamb tell Casciaro that prosecutors told him what to say on the witness stand.
Stephen Denson, a friend of Casciaro's, testified that they were at a Fox Lake bar last summer when Lamb approached Casciaro and told him that McHenry County Assistant State's Attorney Michael Combs, who is prosecuting the case, coached him on what to say on the stand in exchange for the immunity that Lamb was given in the case.
"I don't have money like you," Denson testified that Lamb said. "I was facing 45 years. They came at me with a murder indictment."
Ed Donahue, an attorney who is not part of Casciaro's defense but who said he happened to be at the bar that night, also testified that he overheard the interaction between Casciaro and Lamb. But Donahue also testified that he didn't believe Combs would coach a witness.
Lamb has now testified in both of Casciaro's trials, the first time while serving a prison sentence for an unrelated crime. He has said that Casciaro told him to confront Carrick but that things got heated and Lamb ended up hitting Carrick, who fell to the ground unconscious. Lamb said Casciaro told him to leave and he would take care of the body, which has never been found.
But Casciaro's lawyers have spent much of their time attacking Lamb's credibility, noting his immunity deal and the fact that the convicted felon has told different versions over the years of what happened that night.
No one has ever been convicted in connection with Carrick's death. Besides Casciaro's mistrial, he was acquitted earlier of perjury in the case. Another former co-worker, Robert Render, was charged in 2008 with concealing Carrick's death, but those charges were later dropped. Render died last year.Copyright © 2015, RedEye