In the last seconds of the grainy video of the beating death of Fenger High School sophomore Derrion Albert, a teen in black-and-yellow gym shoes leaped into the air and stomped with both feet at Albert's head as he lay prone on the pavement.
Prosecutors say it was the final blow delivered in the September 2009 melee in which Albert, 16, was kicked and beaten with fists and boards, causing fatal brain injuries. The video spread like wildfire on the Internet, sparking a national debate on youth violence.
Silvonus Shannon, 20, the teen from the video in black-and-yellow shoes, sat stone-faced Monday as prosecutors blamed him for a key blow in Albert's murder as his trial opened in Cook County Criminal Court.
"This young man comes in and kicks Derrion Albert to the ground and then keeps on kicking him before running off down 111th Street," Assistant State's Attorney Lisa Morrison told jurors in opening statements.
But Shannon's lawyer, Robert Byman, said that as the fight erupted, Shannon initially tried to separate several combatants but was himself punched and struck on the head with boards. Albert was one of several students who attacked Shannon, he said.
"Derrion Albert didn't deserve to die that day, but he was a willing participant in that brawl," Byman said.
Shannon landed only glancing blows and wanted nothing to do with the fight that erupted because of simmering tensions between students from the Altgeld Gardens public housing development and the Ville neighborhood surrounding the South Side high school, Byman said.
"All Silvonus Shannon wanted to do that day was get home," Byman said.
Shannon is the first of four defendants charged as adults in Albert's death to go to trial. A fifth defendant, who was 14 at the time and charged as a juvenile, was found delinquent last month following a short jury trial in Cook County Juvenile Court.
The video took center stage at Shannon's trial on Monday as prosecutors called several witnesses and participants in the brawl to identify those seen on the screen.
About a half-dozen of Albert's family members wept quietly in the front row of Circuit Judge Nicholas Ford's packed courtroom while the video was played several times.
T-awannda Piper told jurors she saw the melee unfold from the window of her office at the Agape Community Center, 342 W. 111th St., about half a mile from Fenger. Piper, who works as an after-school counselor there, burst into tears on the witness stand as she described the moment Albert was hit in the back of the head with a large board.
"He stumbled and fell," she said. "I saw him try to get up. Then another young man came and punched him, and he fell back to the ground."
Piper said she went outside after the attack and helped carry Albert inside the community center. She found his Fenger identification card and called his name to try to get a response from him.
"He took a deep breath," she said. "There was nothing else."
In his opening remarks, Byman urged jurors to watch the slow-motion version of the video closely. "It happens in a blur," he said.
He said a careful viewing shows Shannon's blows missed or glanced away from the victim. He told jurors that his client "did what he needed to do" to protect himself during the fight.
Jamal Harding, 19, testified that he knew Albert as a "cool" kid at Fenger who generally "kept to himself."
Harding can be seen at the end of the video approaching Albert, who is motionless and bleeding on the ground.
"What did you say to him?" asked Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen Bankhead.
"I walked up and asked him if he was OK," Harding said. "He just moaned. He was trying to talk."