The star witness in the infamous 2002 disappearance and presumed murder of a 17-year-old Johnsburg
teen has filed a civil lawsuit against the Johnsburg police and McHenry County investigators and prosecutors involved in the case.
Shane Lamb, 32, told a story, once on video, then two times on the witness stand in a McHenry County courtroom during the trials of Mario Casciaro.
At his second murder trial in 2013 Casciaro was convicted of murder by intimidation of Brian Carrick. Carrick worked with Casciaro at his family’s grocery store in Johnsburg. Carrick was one of 14 children in a large Irish Catholic family whose home set right across the street from the grocery store where he was last seen alive.
In 2012, Casciaro’s first murder trial ended in a hung jury. After his conviction the following year, Casciaro was sentenced to 26 years in prison. He served about two years in Menard Correctional Center before seeing his conviction reversed on appeal and his release granted.
The story Lamb told detailing what happened inside a grocery store produce cooler on Dec. 20, 2002 gained him a lesser sentence on unrelated drug charges and full immunity in Carrick’s presumed murder.
However, Lamb later recanted his testimony in a nationalized TV program and again in a signed affidavit claiming McHenry County authorities fed him the details of the murder in order to secure Casciaro’s conviction.
He testified that Casciaro, 19 at the time, was selling drugs out of Val’s Foods grocery store.
Casciaro, Lamb testified, enlisted Carrick to sell marijuana. When Carrick, who often didn’t collect the money from his customers, racked up a $500 drug debt Casciaro ordered Lamb, his supposed “muscle” of the drug operation, to confront Carrick for the money.
Lamb said he argued with Carrick, a well-liked slender built boy with a heart condition, inside the store’s produce cooler. When Carrick argued back, Lamb said he threw what he believed was a fatal blow. He said Carrick fell backward unconscious and blood came from his nose and mouth. Lamb added at that time Casciaro told him to get out of the store and he’d take care of Carrick’s body. The young boy’s blood was found in and around the walk-in cooler but his body was never recovered.
The case was cold for about eight years until prosecutors secured this testimony on video and in 2010 Casciaro was arrested. In exchange, Lamb was given full immunity in Carrick’s presumed murder and a lesser sentence on unrelated drug charges he was facing at the time.
The story, Casciaro’s and Lamb’s lawyers have argued, was fabricated by McHenry County prosecutors and investigators who sought to convict Casciaro for murder.
McHenry County authorites have vehemently denied any such fabrication and have continued to stand by their case.
But in Lamb’s civil lawsuit filed earlier this month his lawyers, Paul De Luca and Blaire Dalton claim, in part, that in 2010 when Lamb was in jail on unrelated drug charges, prosecutors and investigators sat “outside the view of the camera … (and) rehearsed Lamb” for the video statement. In fact, Lamb’s lawyers claim, he shot two videos because prosecutors said that in the first recording Lamb gave incorrect details that didn’t fit thier case.
Lamb claims that he has suffered depression and attempted suicide in 2014 after telling people he lied on the stand due to the “intimidation” of Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Combs. At this time Lamb said his friends and family abandoned him, he could not find a job and he “sank in a deep depression.”
The suit claims that the “intimidation and harassment” by Johnsburg police, Combs and others in the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s office continued even after Lamb asked them in a formal letter to no longer contact him.
Lamb said that in July of 2016, after Casciaro was exonerated and had filed to obtain a certificate of innocence, members from the state’s attorneys office went to visit him in prison.
Without Lamb’s lawyer present, two prosecutors and a detective from Cary “requested that Lamb recant his recantation and admit that he and (Casciaro) really did participate in the murder of Carrick. They attempted to pit Lamb against Casciaro by suggesting … that Casciaro would be getting “millions” from his lawsuit and didn’t really care about Lamb,” according to the lawsuit.
Lamb said he was told that he could now be charged at any time with Carrick’s murder and he ended the meeting and asked guards to take him back to his cell, according to the lawsuit. This meeting was a blatant violation of Illinois Supreme Court Rules of Professional Conduct, the suit states.
Lamb’s lawyers also wrote that Johnsburg Police Chief Von Allmen “chose to hide evidence, not prepare reports of certain witnesses …”harassed” Lamb and his friends and focused his investigation on Lamb and Casciaro.
“During the course of the investigation, from 2003 until 2009, Von Allmen initiated at least ten encounters with Lamb, all in an attempt to intimidate harass and force him into testifying for the state,” the lawsuit states. The lawyers wrote that Von Allmen laughed when Lamb asked for a lawyer and said he “was not entitled to a lawyer.”
The suit also states that Von Allmen was “personal friends” with the father of another man whom they claim is the real killer. They claim blood evidence points to this man as being the killer. However, this man died of a drug overdose in a halfway house the summer between Casciaro’s two murder trials and never faced murder charges.
Von Allmen did not return a request for comment.
As was stated by appellate judges who reversed Casciaro’s conviction, the evidence found at the scene does not match the story that Lamb told.
Lawyers wrote that because of the defendants’ actions Lamb sustained “pain and suffering, severe mental anguish, emotional distress, humiliation, indignities, embarrassment and degradation.”
Lamb’s constitutional rights have been violated and the investigators’ and prosecutors’ interrogation techniques “shock the conscience,” his lawyers wrote.
However, McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally has called the allegations and lawsuit “meritless” and said he expects Lamb’s lawsuit to be “dismissed in short order.”
Combs has denied any wrongdoing and stands by the state’s case.
Casciaro, now 34, is attending law school and working for the Chicago Public Defenders office. He recently settled his own civil lawsuit with McHenry County for $50,000 and is still pursuing a civil lawsuit against Johnsburg police.
In 2015, Lamb was convicted on unrelated weapons and burglary charges and currently is serving a 20-year prison sentence.
Both of Carrick’s parents have since died never knowing the full truth of what happened to their son or having a place to mourn him.