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Defense Wants New Trial For Derrion Albert Defendant

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Silvonus Shannon, Derrion Albert

Silvonus Shannon (left) is one of five defendants charged in the beating murder of Derrion Albert (right). (Credit: Chicago Police Department/CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A man found guilty last month in the beating death of Fenger High School student Derrion Albert was not sentenced on Monday as planned, after his defense filed a motion for a new trial.

Silvonus Shannon, 20, was convicted by a jury on Jan. 11 after three and a half hours in the beating death that was caught on video and seen around the globe.

On Monday, Shannon’s defense filed a motion for a new trial, Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton. He’ll appear for a status hearing March 15.

During Shannon’s trial, Cook County prosecutors had urged jurors to see past his 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.

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.

Shannon took the stand during the trial, 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.

Albert was an honor student at Fenger High School, 10220 S. Wallace St. He was walking home past the Agape Community Center, 342 W. 111th St., when he was caught in the middle of a fight between Fenger students who lived in “The Ville” neighborhood near the school, and students who lived more than four miles south in the Altgeld Gardens public housing development.

Albert died of his injuries.

The fight was also captured on a cell phone video, which was seen around the world and drew unflattering attention to the city.

Albert’s death prompted President Barack Obama to call for a national conversation on violence. The month after the incident, U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder and U.S. Education Sec. Arne Duncan visited Chicago to discuss ways to combat youth violence.

A 15-year-old codefendant was sentenced to prison until he’s 21 on Jan. 19, while Eric Carson pleaded guilty to the murder on Jan. 21 and was sentenced to 26 years in prison.

Two others — Eugene Riley and Lapoleon Colbert — are awaiting trial in Albert’s death.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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