15-Year-Old Boy Is First Of Five Defendants To Face Trial In Beating Of Fenger H.S. Student

UPDATED 12/8/10 – 6:07 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — A 15-year-old boy has been convicted of murder charges in Juvenile Court in the beating death of Fenger High School honor student Derrion Albert.

Jurors deliberated about half an hour Wednesday after two days of testimony in Juvenile Court.

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The 15-year-old boy, who has not been named because of his age, collapsed in his chair after the verdict was announced. One of the defendant’s female family member screamed “lord, lord, lord” and ran out of the courtroom.

Members of Albert’s family wept as the verdict was announced.

Albert’s grandfather, Norman Golliday said, “I think he (the defendant) was acting. He was obtuse throughout this whole thing.”

The verdict came after Prosecutors had rested their case against the 15-year-old Wednesday afternoon and defense attorneys had declined to call any witnesses following two days of testimony.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports that Albert’s family left the courthouse vindicated by the guilty verdict, yet still somber over Albert’s brutal beating and killing last fall.

Earlier in the day, prosecutors displayed a 7-foot wooden board used in the attacks last fall, resulting in Albert’s death. They also showed a cell phone video showing a crowd of Fenger high school students beating, kicking and stomping Albert.

The juvenile defendant was 14 when prosecutors say he punched Albert, knocking him unconscious. The fatal beating on Sept. 24, 2009 in front of the Agape Community Center, 342 W. 111th St., was captured on a cell phone video that was broadcast worldwide.

When Albert, a 16-year-old honor student at Fenger High School, was beaten and killed in a mob brawl on his way home last year, the case made news around the world.

The sight of the video of the wounded teen even brought a few jurors to tears, and several of his family members had to leave the courtroom.

Kloak argued that Albert got up after his client punched him, and therefore, his client should not be charged with murder. He argued that the single punch didn’t cause Albert’s death.

“You don’t have to prove he’s innocent, because that’s not gonna happen,” Kloak told jurors in his closing argument. “You’ve got to show his act caused death.”

But prosecutors said in their closing statements that the punch was part of a chain of events that caused Albert’s death. The pathologist who conducted Albert’s autopsy reviewed graphic pictures of his body — a sight that sent his family out of the courtroom in tears.

Dr. Hilary McElligott said she concluded the defendant’s punch, combined with the other board beatings and kickings, all contributed to Albert’s death.

And in closing arguments, prosecutors that defendant’s punch helped sign Albert’s death certificate, as the only thing that broke his fall from that punch was the pavement.

The defendant was the first of five people charged in the case who faced trial.

The other four were charged as adults. They are Eugene Riley, 19, Lapoleon Colbert, 20, Silvonus Shannon, 20, and Eric Carson, 17. Their trials are scheduled separately over the coming months.

Asked how the family would get through four more trials, Golliday said, “I don’t know how we got through this one, but we pray everyday and just get out of the way.”

The four defendants charged as adults face lengthy prison sentences, but the boy who has been convicted in Juvenile Court can only be locked up until the age of 21.

But if he misbehaves in prison, his sentence could be converted to that of an adult. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 18.

CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli and Vince Gerasole contributed to this report.

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