A hate crime and robbery case against two southwestern suburban men that began more than two years ago ended Tuesday, as the pair pleaded guilty to one felony count each of a hate crime.
Akram Alshoweat, 24, of Oak Lawn and Mohammed Shaban, 37, of Hickory Hills were each sentenced to 24 months probation by Cook County Judge Colleen Ann Hyland in her Bridgeview courtroom.
The two men were charged in connection to a June 28, 2010 incident where police say they attacked a woman they believed to be a lesbian outside a Hickory Hills restaurant. They shouted slurs at the woman in Arabic, and then punched and kicked her as she tried to leave, prosecutors said.
However, the men's attorneys contended that the tussle was self-defense against the woman — who is a former Olympic mixed martial arts fighter — and that witness for the prosecution was actually an active participant in the brawl. The defense tried unsuccessfully to get the criminal history of the prosecution's key witness admitted as evidence in the case.
Alshoweat and Shaban will be subject to random drug testing, aren't allowed to have any contact with the victim and have to pay court costs. Alshoweat was ordered to pay $595 and will be credited with eight days served in the Cook County Department of Corrections and Shaban will have to pay $625 and was credited with two days served.
Both men pleaded to the lesser of charges they were facing. The agreement is one that satisfied both prosecutor Mary Jennings and the pair's defense attorneys, Gregg Smith representing Shaban and Michael Monaco for Alshoweat.
Jennings also said she spoke to the victim, who was willing to accept the agreement because she doesn't want to testify.
"The victim is very much in agreement with this," Jennings told Hyland.
Hyland also agreed with much of the deal, except for a stipulation that the men get their passports returned.
"I have an objection," Hyland said. "Your request is denied. [They have] a felony conviction now. [They are] not allowed to leave the state, let alone the country."
Alshoweat and Shaban stood silently beside their attorneys during the hearing except for when Hyland directly asked them questions about their plea and paperwork they had signed to accompany it. When asked if they had any comments before sentencing, they both declined.
Monaco told the judge, however, that he believes the whole incident was "circumstances that probably got out of control due to the consumption of alcohol."
The attorneys declined further comment after the hearing. Alshoweat and Shaban also chose not to comment.