The courtroom was silent as Clevon Nicholson came down from the witness stand, walked about a dozen feet to the defense table and pointed.
"It was him," the 14-year-old black youngster said Thursday in a soft voice.The 19-year-old white defendant, Frank Caruso, showed no emotion as he was identified as the instigator of the March 21, 1997, attack that left a black 13-year-old crumpled and unconscious in a street a few blocks north of Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox.
The incident stunned Chicago and brought a denunciation of racial hatred from President Clinton in his weekly radio address.
The savage beating of Lenard Clark occurred at the edge of Chicago's Bridgeport area, a white enclave and for decades the political bastion of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's family.
The neighborhood lies just across an expressway from a long row of desolate public housing projects where both Lenard and Clevon lived with their mothers.
Caruso says he had nothing to do with the beating and has been charged because the Chicago police were under tremendous pressure to make arrests in the case.
"They wanted to nail someone," defense attorney Ed Genson told the jurors in a trial scheduled to resume today.
Prosecutor Bob Berlin said in his opening statement that Caruso had shown hatred toward black teenagers and ordered them out of the neighborhood before.
Clevon testified that he and Lenard went to Bridgeport to play football with boys they knew there when they encountered young men coming from two directions. He said that Caruso first punched him on the side of the head, then hit Lenard.
Clevon said he ran off and took refuge in a mass transit station. He couldn't see what happened next to his friend, who was left so badly brain damaged by the pummeling that he had to relearn how to use the bathroom.
The teenager acknowledged that the following day he identified someone other than Caruso as the assailant in a police lineup. But at a second lineup, he told police that he had made a mistake and picked out Caruso.
Two other young Bridgeport men also are charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and a hate crime for the beating. Their trial is Oct. 19.