By JILLIAN DUCHNOWSKI – email@example.com
January 15, 2010
WOODSTOCK – Prosecutors dropped charges today against the 24-year-old Johnsburg area man accused of concealing Brian Carrick’s 2002 homicide.
Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Combs said the investigation into Carrick’s disappearance remains ongoing. The felony charge against Robert Render was dropped this morning, but can be refiled at any time, he said.
“We want to continue our investigation and put our best evidence forward,” Combs said, adding authorities have interviewed witnesses as recently as last week.
Carrick, a 17-year-old Johnsburg High School student, was last 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.
Render’s attorney, George Kililis, said prosecutors need to prove that a defendant knew the victim died of homicidal means to prove a charge of homicidal death. That can be difficult to accomplish without the victim’s body or an established time of death.
Kililis said he believes Render is innocent.
“I think the State’s position is he knows something and isn’t saying anything,” Kililis said. “In this charge, what he must know 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.
Mario 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 Shane [Lamb] 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.