JOHNSBURG – Mario Casciaro is seeking millions of dollars in damages from the McHenry County state's attorney's office, the Johnsburg Police Department and the village in a wrongful prosecution lawsuit filed this week, according to media reports.
The lawsuit said authorities violated Casciaro's rights and caused him a loss of freedom and personal fulfillment, emotional distress, mental anguish and embarrassment. His attorneys did not provide a specific amount he is suing for, but told the Chicago Tribune that Casciaro is seeking millions of dollars in damages.
McHenry County jurors found Casciaro guilty of first-degree murder by intimidation in March 2013 after the conclusion of three trials, one for perjury and two for murder, in connection with Johnsburg teenager Brian Carrick’s 2002 disappearance. Carrick was last seen Dec 20, 2002, at the grocery store where he worked, which also was owned by Casciaro’s parents.
Casciaro, now 33, was the only person convicted in the murder case. He served 22 months in Menard Correctional Facility on his 26-year sentence before the 2nd District Appellate Court overturned his conviction. He was released from prison in September 2015.
A ruling from the 2nd District Appellate Court overturned Casciaro’s conviction because it said evidence was so lacking and improbable that the state failed to prove Casciaro’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The Illinois Supreme Court denied the McHenry County state’s attorney’s request in March 2016 to hear an appeal of the lower court’s decision.
McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally, who helped prosecute Casciaro's case, told the Chicago Tribune the allegations in the lawsuit were without merit, though the lawsuit itself was not unexpected. Casciaro’s attorneys were in court March 17 seeking a certificate of innocence, which would allow Casciaro to seek money damages from the state for the time he served in prison.
Kenneally argued against granting the certificate in the state’s objection to the defense’s argument.
“A finding of not guilty is not the legal equivalent of innocent, even when a ruling court has determined ‘that no rational jury could find beyond a reasonable doubt that the state proved all elements of the crimes charged,’ ” Kenneally said.
The matter will be back in court May 11.