CHICAGO (AP) – The trial began Monday for a second suspect in the beating death of a Chicago teenager, with prosecutors and defense attorneys clashing over whether the defendant seen in a video shown around the world actually struck the victim’s head.
After Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Lisa Morrison pointed to Silvonus Shannon, accusing him of kicking Derrion Albert and stomping on his head, Shannon’s attorney Bob Vyman told jurors the video does not show that.
Vyman said Shannon, 20, kicked past Albert’s head and that there is no video proof the defendant’s foot connected with the victim’s head. In fact, Vyman called Albert a “willing participant” in the brawl and actually threw a punch at Shannon moments earlier. He told jurors they would see the video several times during the trial.
“You do not see him come down on his head,” he said.
Vyman also disputed prosecution claims that Shannon was part of the mob that attacked Albert, saying Shannon only fought after he was attacked and struck across the back of the head with a board.
In the video, Albert is seen being struck with a board, punched in the face, and kicked while on the ground. He was helpless on the ground when Shannon jumped near his head. But the camera’s view is obstructed, making it unclear where Shannon landed.
A woman who worked in a nearby community center testified Monday she saw Albert beaten, kicked and his head stomped. But T-Awannda Piper was not asked to identify Shannon as the perpetrator.
Shannon is the first defendant being tried as an adult in the attack. A 15-year-old boy who was charged as a juvenile was convicted in December of first-degree murder after jurors deliberated a half hour.
Prosecutors say Shannon and the others were part of a mob that descended on Albert, a 15-year-old Fenger High School honor student, as he made his way home from school in September 2009.
The beating was captured on cell phone video and broadcast widely, providing the most vivid example of escalating violence that in a six-month period claimed the lives of more than 20 Chicago public school students. Albert’s death prompted President Barack Obama to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan to the city to discuss ways to end the violence.
After Albert’s death, Mayor Richard Daley proposed deploying more police officers to work in three-hour overtime shifts coinciding with school dismissal times. He also beefed up the police presence at public transportation stops where students congregate.
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