Hate Crime Case Delayed as Defense Investigates Key Witness for Prosecution
A Cook County judge granted more time for attorneys representing Mohammad Shaban of Hickory Hills and Akram Alshoweat of Oak Lawn to review charges leveled against a key witness in the prosecution's cases against them.
Attorneys for two men awaiting trial on hate crime and robbery charges asked a Cook County judge Tuesday for more time to gather information about a battery case against a key witness for the prosecution.
Akram Alshoweat, 24, of Oak Lawn and Mohammed Shaban, 37, of Hickory Hills are accused of attacking and robbing a woman they believed to be a lesbian on June 28, 2010, outside a restaurant, police said.
Attorneys said the two men have pleaded not guilty and claim they acted in self-defense. They rejected a plea deal in March.
During Tuesday's hearing, attorneys Gregg Smith and Michael Monaco were set to file motions in Judge Colleen Ann Hyland's Bridgeview courtroom regarding felony aggravated battery of a police officer charges against John Mitsis.
Discovery of Mitsis' background postponed the pair's trial, which was scheduled to begin on July 24. Mitsis is a key witness for the prosecution and was an "active participant" in the incident that spurred charges against Alshoweat and Shaban, defense attorneys have said previously. Mitsis has two pending battery cases, including one case that is also being heard in Hyland's courtroom.
Mitsis has been charged with four counts of aggravated battery of a police officer and pleaded not guilty on May 22, according to court records. In a the second case, he pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge on Aug. 1.
Neither Smith nor Monaco were in court Tuesday. Attorney Marci Sahinoglu appeared for both Alshoweat and Shaban, who are free on bond and did not comment during the hearing.
“We have been trying to contact different witnesses related to the John Mitsis battery case,” Sahinoglu told the judge Tuesday. The attorneys also have attempted to get in touch with the Oak Lawn police officer in Mitsis' case, she said.
The police officer's name has been given to the attorneys and issued a date next week for the attorneys to explain the delay.
“This information came to light last court date,” Hyland said. “Both Mr. Smith and Mr. Monaco said they would get the motion filed by today's date.”
The case is scheduled to be back before Hyland on Aug. 28.