CHICAGO (CBS/STMW) – After three and a half hours, a Cook County jury Tuesday night found Silvonus Shannon guilty of murder in the beating death of Fenger High School student Derrion Albert — an attack caught on video that has been seen around the globe.
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Cook County prosecutors had urged jurors to see past Silvonus Shannon’s claims of self-defense, saying Albert was lying on the ground with his hand up in the air when Shannon began kicking him in the Sept. 24, 2009, attack.
“Derrion did everything but wave a white flag!” assistant state’s attorney Kathy Bankhead said in her closing argument. Shannon “didn’t have a reason to kick Derrion Albert. He didn’t have a reason to stomp Derrion Albert. He’s sorry. We’re all sorry. This is not going to absolve him of responsibility.”
Shannon’s attorney, Robert Byman, replayed parts of the video frame by frame, saying none of the images conclusively proved his client inflicted damaging kicks. Byman also told jurors that his client was himself a victim in the brawl, an ongoing rivalry between students from Altgeld Gardens and a neighborhood known as “The Ville.” Shortly before Shannon began kicking Albert, he’d been whacked with a heavy piece of lumber, Byman said.
“He was dazed, disoriented,” Byman said. “He didn’t know what he was doing.”
Even so, Byman described his client’s behavior that day as “stupid,” “inappropriate,” and inexcusable.
The jury did not convict Shannon on mob action charges.
Earlier Tuesday, Shannon took the stand, testifying that, despite prosecutors’ assertions to the contrary, the video doesn’t show him kicking Albert.
When one of his attorneys, Olivia Luk, asked whether he kicked Albert in the head, Shannon testified, “No ma’am. … It doesn’t look like it.”
Shannon, 20, later denied that he intentionally stomped on Albert’s head, as prosecutors allege.
“I don’t think I would try to purposely land on anyone’s head,” Shannon testified.
Shannon apologized for what happened but never admitted to purposely striking Albert, 16.
“I think I did it on impulse,” Shannon said of his involvement in the brawl.
Shannon is the second of those accused in the attack to stand trial — and the first to testify.
A juvenile codefendant was found delinquent last month and awaits sentencing. Three others — Eric Carson, Eugene Riley and Lapoleon Colbert — are awaiting trial in Albert’s death.
On the stand, Shannon — who was also a student at Fenger at the time of the attack — portrayed himself as a young man looking to avoid participation in the neighborhood rivalry.
Shannon, who is from Altgeld Gardens, said he was attacked by Ville kids, including Albert, while walking home after school on the day of the fatal beating. Shannon testified that Albert punched him in the jaw during the lead-up to the melee.
“He punched me right in the jaw,” Shannon testified.
Later, Bankhead repeatedly replayed the video for Shannon, pausing it repeatedly as it appeared to show Shannon kick Albert as he lay on the ground.
“You took the lead and kicked him in the face and head?” Bankhead asked Shannon.
“Not that I can remember,” Shannon mumbled.
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