Defense attorneys for three young men charged in the murders of a Palos Township couple learned in court that Cook County prosecutors are no closer to providing cell phone records for one of the defendants than they were in January.
John Granat, 19, and his friends from Stagg High School, Christopher Wyma, 19, and Ehab Qasem, 22, who have been indicted on 75 counts related to first-degree murder, home invasion and armed robbery in the murders of Granat’s parents, appeared in Judge Neil Linehan’s courtroom in Bridgeview Thursday morning.
John and Maria Granat were found brutally beaten and stabbed in the bedroom of their Palos Township home on Sept. 11, 2011. Their son, John, contended that he woke up that morning only to find both his parents dead, prosecutors said.
In the days following their deaths, friends set up a Facebook page in John and Maria's memory.
Wyma, Qasem, and a third Granat acquaintance, Mohammed Salahat, 18, then a sophomore at Oak Lawn Community High School, were charged several weeks later in the crime. Prosecutors contend that Granat enlisted his friends’ help in killing his parents.
Salahat, the driver in the alleged murder plot, has been separated from the other three during status hearings for the time being. All of the defendants have requested separate trials.
It was Granat, Wyma and Qasem’s first time in court since Jan. 22. The three stood before the judge and their attorneys in their usual jail-issued yellow attire.
Cook County prosecutor Donna Norton explained that Wyma’s cell phone still needed to be cracked, the last piece of discovery evidence.
“We’re waiting for the Secret Service to do the download,” Norton said. “This is the only evidence outstanding at this time.”
Norton said the process would take about six weeks “but we hope to have the [cell phone records] before then.” She said the same in January.
Attorneys also filed what could amount to be the first of pre-trial motions. Assistant public defender LaFonzo Palmer filed a motion to quash Granat’s cell phone records. He also filed a motion dismiss the charges against Granat.
The trio’s next status hearing is May 30. On the way of out of the courtroom, Granat cracked a smile at two young people sitting in the audience.
After the hearing, Palmer was asked why he was trying to get the charges against Granat dismissed.
“Because there was no probable cause to arrest him,” Palmer said.
Salahat is due in court on March 31. His attorney, former Drew Peterson defender Joel Brodsky, has been trying to get murder charges dropped against his young client on the basis that Salahat did not know about the alleged murder plot to kill Granat’s parents.
Salahat was sitting outside the Granats’ upscale Palos Township home in what prosecutors have termed as the getaway car when the killings were taking place.
Brodsky has charged that because Salahat was not inside the house, it's unconstitutional for him to be facing life in prison should he be convicting of murder.