The vicious beating death of 16-year-old high school honor student Derrion Albert by a gang of teens wielding railroad ties shocked the nation when a cell phone video of it went viral. Today one of the culprits was found guilty of the September 2009 slaying.
His attorney painted him as a foolish schoolboy who stumbled upon a fight he had nothing to do with as he walked home from school.
But a jury took little more than half-an-hour to reject that argument and find the 15-year-old guilty of the first-degree murder of Fenger High School honors student Derrion Albert.
Caught in a notorious cellphone video that showed him punching Albert, 16, in the face, the teen collapsed into his chair and slammed it into the wall as the guilty verdict was announced at the Cook County Juvenile Court Wednesday.
As Albert’s mother dabbed her eyes and slowly shook her head, the convicted teen's aunt ran from the courtroom screaming, “Oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord.’’
Prosecutors said the convicted teen was the one who is seen in the cell phone video striking the first blow, a punch to Albert's face that led to the mob's feeding frenzy.
The first of five charged in the murder to stand trial, the boy is due to be sentenced on Jan. 18, 2011.
The satisfaction of justice served is cold comfort, knowing that on top of one promising young life having been snuffed out, we now see another one in ruins.
Sheryl Huggins Salomon is senior editor-at-large of The Root and a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based editorial consultant. Follow her on Twitter.