Casciaro’s attorney, Kathleen Zellner, sent a news release Thursday morning that credited a “20-month delay by the McHenry County Circuit Court” as the basis for Casciaro’s decision to voluntarily dismiss his request.
A hearing on the matter was scheduled for Friday, a Nov. 16 court order shows.
Casciaro’s attorneys have said McHenry County court officials have “always had a biased against” him, and Zellner anticipated McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather would rule against their request, Zellner said in an email Thursday afternoon.
“There is no advantage in having a Certificate of Innocence in Mario’s civil rights case. We anticipate recovering a multimillion dollar verdict in the civil rights case. We have made a $6 million demand to settle that case,” Zellner said in the email. “The Court of Claims pays compensation to exonerated inmates based on the number of years they served in IDOC. Based on that calculation, Mr. Casciaro would only be eligible for $20,000, which would be less than the cost of an appeal. Additionally, Mr. Casciaro’s received $50,000 from the MCSA Office even though they have absolute immunity in a civil rights lawsuit. A simple cost benefit analysis prompted Mr. Casciaro to dismiss the Petition.”
McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally has questioned why Casciaro announced the dismissal of his request the day before a decision was to be made.
“The fact that Mr. Casciaro and his lawyers have dismissed his Petition for Innocence after nearly a year of proceedings and just prior to the final hearing is disgraceful,” Kenneally said. “Mr. Casciaro has said a lot of things and pointed a lot of fingers. He claimed he is innocent. He claimed prosecutors acted inappropriately. He claimed a witness, who conveniently has since died and can no longer defend himself, is the real culprit. All anyone really needs to know, however, is that on the day prior to the final hearing, when he would have been required to actually ‘prove’ these claims, he tellingly cut bait and dismissed his Petition.”
It is unclear whether attorneys will try other avenues to clear Casciaro’s record.
Casciaro was convicted in March 2013 of killing Carrick, a Johnsburg teen who last was seen at a grocery store where he worked, which Casciaro’s parents owned.
Casciaro served 22 months in the Menard Correctional Center on a 26-year sentence before the Second District Appellate Court overturned his conviction in September 2015.
“Mr. Casciaro believes the Appellate Court opinion rendered in September 2015 establishes his innocence for the purposes of his civil rights lawsuit,” the release stated.
Casciaro settled his civil lawsuit with the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office for $50,000 in 2017.
The lawsuit, filed March 27, said county and village authorities violated Casciaro’s rights throughout their investigation of Carrick’s death and the subsequent prosecution.
The village of Johnsburg is in talks of settlement with Casciaro and his attorneys.