The trial for one of the five teens charged with murder for beating Chicago Public Schools student Derrion Albert last year began on Tuesday. The AP reports that prosecutors opened the trial by playing the cell phone video of Albert’s beating death that another student caught on cell phone.
Albert, a 16-year-old student at Fenger Academy, was walking home from school in September 2009 when a punch was thrown, and then a kick, and before long a mob of students had descended on the boy, slamming him with wood flats and stomping him on the head. He died.
The boy on trial was 14 at the time, and is 15 now. Four other people have been charged but are being tried as adults. The boy’s attorney Richard Kloak said that the boy did punch Albert but didn’t issue the life-ending blow.
From the AP:
“He didn’t stomp anybody, hit anyone with a stick or hit anyone on the ground,” Kloak said. “He may be guilty of something else (but) he is not guilty of first-degree murder.”
Kloak said if convicted of first-degree murder, his client could be sentenced to prison until he is 21. Kloak added that if the teen violates conditions of his sentence he could receive 20 to 60 years in prison.
Since Albert’s death, Fenger Academy has been overhauled under one of Chicago’s “turnaround” models, and the city sent more police to patrol the school. President Obama sent Attorney General Eric Holder to the school as well but a rash of murders–20 in a six-month period–have continued to claim the lives of Chicago public school students since.
“I’ve never seen [the video],” Albert’s mother Anjanette Albert told a local ABC affiliate earlier this year. “But if he didn’t videotape that, then I don’t know where we would be right now.”