Murder Suspect Not a Flight Risk, Psychiatrist Says
The family of Mohammed Salahat, who is accused in the 2011 Granat murders, is prepared to put up property valued at $150,000 to get him out of jail.
A battery of psychological evaluations administered to a defendant in the Granat murders case this summer show that he isn't prone to violence and would not present a danger to himself or the community should he be released on bond, a psychiatrist testified Monday.
Dr. Alan M. Jaffe, a professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told a judge Monday the tests, given to Mohammed Salahat, 18, from April to June, also showed he has extreme love and loyalty toward his family.
"I think the psychological evaluation is very comprehensive," Jaffe said on the stand. "[My opinion] is not a belief. Based on empirical data, I do not think Mohammad Salahat would pose any risk of flight or the welfare of the community if released."
Salahat is accused, along with three other men, of murdering a Palos Township couple on Sept. 11, 2011. His defense attorney, Joel Brodsky, introduced the testimony and 17-page report from Jaffe as part of an effort to get the Cook County judge to approve a bond. The four have been in custody without bond since the incident.
Jaffe is a professor at Northwestern and also runs a private practice, he testified Monday. He is regularly called on by the court as an expert witness.
While Brodsky had hoped Mohammad Salahat could go home this week, his client will have to wait two more weeks to find out whether he will be released from jail on bond.
Salahat, Christopher Wyma, 18; Ehab Qasem, 20; and the couple's son, John Granat, 18, are charged with murder in connection with the beating and stabbing deaths John and Maria Granat.
Salahat has been described by prosecutors as the driver who remained in a car outside the home while the other three beat and stabbed the Granats to death in their bedroom; prosecutors have said Salahat, 16 at the time, was aware of what was going on inside the home while Salahat's defense has said he didn't know.
Cook County Judge Neil J. Linehan won't rule on the issue until Dec. 20.
During his testimony, Jaffe said he was "impressed" with Salahat's loyalty toward his family and believes their willingness to put up their homes for his bond increased the likelihood that Salahat would follow the conditions set by the court, for fear of disappointing them further.
None of the questions in the evaluations actually asked about the 2011 murders, however.
While Jaffe said his report was comprehensive, prosecutors seized the opportunity during cross-examination to ask the psychiatrist about individual questions.
"My drug habits often got me into a good deal of trouble in the past," Assistant State's Attorney Donna Norton read from Salahat's test results. "His answer is true."
Jaffe testified he didn't know Salahat's answer to that question because every single answer of the evaluations — in this case, there were five tests administered to Salahat — isn't reviewed by the clinician. Instead, he explained, the pattern of the results are evaluated as a whole.
That didn't stop Norton from reading aloud several more questions for the court, explaining "these are questions, I believe...this doctor didn't rely on the answers to when assessing the defendant," when Brodsky objected.
Norton also brought up how much Jaffe was compensated for his testing of Salahat and his subsequent testimony, which the doctor estimates to be around $10,000, not counting the hours he spent testifying on Monday. Jaffe said he charges $280 an hour.
Salahat was the only one of the four present Monday and sat at the defense table in a yellow Department of Corrections jumpsuit for the duration of the three-hour bond hearing next to his attorney.
Substance Abuse, Participation in Crime Questioned
Hiba Salahat, Salahat's older sister, testified during direct examination by Brodsky that her brother was close to the family, had many cousins and family members he regularly interacted with and had known Ehab Qasem, one of his co-defendants, only a few months before the Granat murders.
"Had he ever been in any trouble before then?" Brodsky asked.
"No, never," she responded.
The sister indicated that she, her parents and her uncle were willing to put up money for Salahat's bail -- efforts that Brodsky said could raise as much as $150,000 for a $1.5 million bond.
Questions from the prosecution hinged on Salahat's admitted substance abuse. When Salahat's sister, Hiba Salahat, took the stand, ASA Debbie Lawler asked her if she had been aware that her brother regularly smoked marijuana.
"No," Hiba Salahat said.
Hiba Salahat has said during direct examination that her parents are great disciplinarians, a point Lawler zeroed in on during cross.
"If the judge granted bail to your brother, where would he live?"
"With my parents," Hiba Salahat answered.
"Isn't that the same place he lived where he's accused of committing double murder?" Lawler asked.
"Yes," she answered.
Just before court was adjourned for the day, Brodsky raised an objection to the prosecution's assertion that Salahat was in agreement with his three co-defendants' alleged plan to murder the Granats and steal $10,000 from them to "upstart a drug dealing business."
"At no time, even through today, has anyone alleged that a violent act of Mohammad Salahat caused the death of Mr. and Mrs. Granat," Brodsky said. "Never, nowhere does it say Mohammad Salahat formed an agreement with Wyma, Granat and Qasem to commit a murder."
But Norton and Lawler said transcripts of Salahat's interrogation while he was in custody after the incident points to his agreement, though it was never expressly stated.
As a result of the disagreement, transcripts on the interviews that prosecutors were referring to was entered in evidence and given to Judge Linehan.
Linehan is expected to address that issue and rule on Brodsky's bail reduction motion on Dec. 20.
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