By JILLIAN DUCHNOWSKI – firstname.lastname@example.org
January 16, 2010
WOODSTOCK – Prosecutors said they were continuing to investigate Brian Carrick’s 2002 disappearance after dropping a charge Friday against a man accused of concealing his homicide.
Prosecutors dropped the felony charge against Robert Render, 24, of the Johnsburg area, but it can be refiled at any time, Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Combs said.
Render has denied the allegations, commenting shortly after his arrest in July 2008 that it was ridiculous “that I’m even here.”
“We want to continue our investigation and put our best evidence forward,” Combs said, adding that authorities have interviewed witnesses as recently as last week.
Carrick, a 17-year-old Johnsburg High School student, last was seen about 6:45 p.m. Dec. 20, 2002, walking into Val’s Foods across the street from his house.
His body has not been recovered, but his blood was found in a produce cooler and in boxes from a trash compactor at the store, where he worked as a stock boy.
Authorities believe Render, who also worked at the grocery store, helped clean up potential evidence after the disappearance and was among the last known to see Carrick.
Render’s attorney, George Kililis, said prosecutors needed to prove that a defendant knew the victim died of homicidal means to prove a charge of concealing a homicidal death.
That can be difficult to accomplish without the victim’s body or an established time of death.
Kililis said he knew prosecutors desperately wanted to resolve Carrick’s case, but he believed Render was innocent and supported dropping the charge.
“I think the state’s position is he knows something and isn’t saying anything,” Kililis said. “In this charge, what he must know [to prove the allegation] is homicidal death.”
This case is the second the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office has pursued surrounding Carrick’s disappearance without a conviction.
In August, Judge Sharon Prather threw out charges against Mario Casciaro, 26, of McHenry, alleging that he had lied to a grand jury about his involvement in Carrick’s disappearance.
After prosecutors presented their main evidence in Casciaro’s trial, defense attorney William Gibbs successfully asked Prather to find that prosecutors had not proven their case, even if their evidence was seen in the light most favorable to prosecutors.
Casciaro faced two counts of perjury after he denied having about a conversation with Alan Lippert. Lippert, 26, testified that after a night of drinking, Casciaro told him the story of what happened to Carrick.
“He said Brian owed him money and he told [another man] to scare him, but things got out of hand,” Lippert testified in August. “He said that after the accident, he had his relatives help move the body outside of Val’s.”
In August, prosecutors said their case against Casciaro would have been stronger if they had been allowed to present audio tapes of a conversation recorded by Lippert without Casciaro’s knowledge.
But portions of the tape were garbled, so it was not admissible.