First Adult Tried in Derrion Albert Death

Testimonies begin in trial of 20-year-old

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    Nadashia Thomas, 6, a cousin of Derrion Albert, holds a sign beside a poster of him at Fenger High School.

    The first adult trial of the Derrion Albert beating death started Monday, with prosecutors and
    defense attorneys clashing over whether the defendant seen in a video shown around the world actually landed on the victim's head.

    Testimonies began in the trial of Silvonus Shannon, 20, one of four charged in the September 2009 death of 16-year-old Albert.

    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 Byman told jurors
    the video does not show that.

    Byman said Shannon kicked past Albert's head and that there is no video proof the defendant's foot connected with the victim's head. In fact, Byman 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. However, one participant in the brawl testified he saw Shannon land on Albert's head.

    "He jumped on his head," said Dominic Johnson, the 17-year-old of cousin of a teenager convicted last month in Albert's death.

    Byman 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.

    The trial has proceeded much like the December trial of a juvenile, with the same witnesses, including the pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Albert's body.

    Dr. Hilary McElligott said it was impossible to determine which blow caused Albert's death but that they all contributed to it.

    Byman tried to poke holes in her testimony by pointing out there were no marks on the left side of Albert's head, where he said his client would have landed. But McElligott said it is possible a person could land on the left side of Albert's head, leaving no marks but causing the kind of injuries suffered on the right side of his head.

    A woman who worked in a nearby community center testified 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 was convicted 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.