December 11, 2023
Local News

Man connected to Carrick case died from overdose

WAUCONDA – A man once charged with concealing the homicide of a Johnsburg teen has died from a heroin overdose, posing serious issues for Mario Casciaro's second murder trial, his attorney said.

Robert Render, 26, died in the early morning hours of May 16. He was found at a halfway house in Wauconda where he had been staying while on parole, said Chief Wayne S. Hunter of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

In 2008, Render was charged in connection with the disappearance of Brian Carrick about six years before, although prosecutors eventually dropped the case. In 2010, he was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for stealing 12 cans of baby formula from the Jewel in Spring Grove, to be served at the same time as charges out of Lake County.

Render worked with Carrick at the now-closed Val's Foods in Johnsburg, directly across the street from where Carrick lived and where he was last seen about 6:45 p.m. Dec. 20, 2002.

Casciaro, who also worked at the store, went on trial for murder in January, but jurors deadlocked and McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather declared a mistrial.

Casciaro's second trial is scheduled for July 30. Although Render didn't testify during the first trial, defense attorney Brian Telander said he would have called him this time around.

"I was planning on putting him on the stand and asking him questions about why his blood was at the scene," Telander said. "I've got concerns about a lot of issues. Is there a way to get his statements in now that he's dead? Can we even put on that evidence now that he's dead?"

Items found at the scene of Render's death, such as a hypodermic needle and syringe, indicated that it was an overdose, Hunter said, and two people were charged: Douglas E. Moses, 40, and Yvonne M. Pitts, 36, both of Waukegan.

Hunter said there was no indication of Render's death being linked at all to his involvement with Casciaro's case, but Telander said he plans to ask for reports and information surrounding it.

Telander has already asked for documents from prosecutors regarding statements that Render made after Casciaro's first trial, which a state's attorney's office investigator indicated were inconsistent with three prior statements.

Telander is also awaiting the results of new or additional testing of evidence found at Val's, such as fingerprints that were collected but not analyzed.

Meanwhile, the prosecution's key witness, Shane Lamb, has been released from prison.

Lamb had been serving a separate six-year sentence on a cocaine charge, but he was given immunity for his testimony at Casciaro's trial.

Lamb also worked at Val's and testified that he was sent by Casciaro to "talk" to Carrick about a drug debt of about $500.

Lamb said he lost his temper after Carrick kept arguing, so he hit Carrick one or two times and Carrick "went down." Lamb said that Casciaro told him to leave, and he doesn't know what happened after that.

Carrick's body was never found.