State rests case against Casciaro

WOODSTOCK – Prosecutors rested their case and the defense began putting witnesses on the stand this morning in the trial of Mario Casciaro, who is charged with murder following the disappearance of a Johnsburg teen in 2002.

Seventeen-year-old Brian Carrick was last seen about 6:45 p.m. Dec. 20, 2002 at Val's Foods, directly across the street from the house where he lived with his parents.

Prosecutors have said Casciaro used another man, Shane Lamb, as a “henchman” to collect on a drug debt owed by Carrick.

While in the produce cooler at the store where all three worked, Lamb lost his temper and hit Carrick before leaving, he testified last week. Lamb has been granted immunity; Carrick's body has never been found.

The defense has pointed a finger at another employee whose blood was found on the scene: Robert Render.

Render, however, died in May from a drug overdose. He was once charged with concealing a homicide, but the case against him was dropped.

The state's last witness was Johnsburg Police Chief Keith Von Allmen, who testified that on Dec. 28, 2002 – eight days after Carrick disappeared – Render's father reported that his son had run away.

Von Allmen said he later saw Render walking along the road and Render ran, but he was caught in some woods with a marijuana pipe.

One of the first witnesses for the defense included Casciaro's friend, Jerad Karlen. Karlen said that the night Carrick disappeared, he saw Casciaro at a small party where they smoked pot.

Karlen said he could confirm the date because of flight records. He had flown in from Colorado, where he had been attending school, on his family's private plane.

Karlen said Casciaro wasn't acting unusual that night and said they spent several hours together.

The defense and prosecutors also entered into several stipulations, or agreements as to certain facts or what some witnesses would say on the stand.

Those included an agreement that from 11:28 a.m. on Dec. 20, 2002 to 10:30 a.m. the following day, there were no phone calls or "chirps" from Casciaro's Nextel phone to Lamb.

But Lamb had said Casciaro had contacted him to go "talk" to Carrick.

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