A teen charged in the videotaped beating death of Fenger High School sophomore Derrion Albert wept in court today as he said goodbye to his mother and sisters after being sentenced to 26 years in prison.
Eric Carson, 17, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder in the September 2009 slaying and was sentenced by Criminal Court Judge Nicholas Ford as part of an agreement with prosecutors.
Carson, who was 16 at the time, was seen on the infamous videotape of the beating striking Albert on the back of the head with a large board. The blow sent Albert sprawling to the pavement. He was then beaten and stomped by several other teens as he struggled to his feet.
Carson has been in custody since his arrest days after the attack. After pleading guilty on Friday, Ford allowed his mother and two sisters to hug and kiss him before he was led away by deputies.
As he passed the bench, Carson used his khaki, jail-issued shirt to wipe tears from his face. The judge wished him luck.
Dozens of supporters who were crammed into the gallery of Ford’s courtroom cried loudly as the hearing came to a close, some shouting “No!” while one woman yelled, “26 years? That’s crazy!” Several of the spectators raised arms in salute as Carson was returned to the lockup.
Members of Albert’s family also attended the hearing but left before the emotional scene played out.
Both families declined to comment.
Carson is the third defendant to be convicted in connection with Albert’s murder. Earlier this month, a jury convicted Silvonus Shannon, 20, of first-degree murder. Shannon, who was tried as an adult, faces 20 to 60 years in prison when he is sentenced in February.
On Tuesday, a 14-year-old boy convicted of murder as a juvenile was sentenced to a juvenile detention center until his 21st birthday.
Two others, Eugene Riley and Lapoleon Colbert, still await trial.
The brawl occurred after classes let out at Fenger, then beset by tensions between students from “the Ville” neighborhood near the school and those from the Altgeld Gardens public housing complex.
The grainy, shaky video -- played repeatedly on TV news and seen worldwide on the Internet -- showed Carson, who is from the Ville, swing a 4-foot-long board toward a group of fighting teens, striking Albert in the side of the head.
Jurors in the trials of both Shannon and the juvenile were shown the three-minute tape repeatedly, at regular speed and on a frame-by-frame basis.
Carson’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Lorne Gorelick, said his client sat down with prosecutors to discuss a plea deal in early January. Carson must serve 100 percent of the 26-year sentence.
Since he was credited with nearly a year and a half of time served while awaiting trial, Carson will be released from prison when he is 42.
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