Bail denied for three teens charged with helping friend kill parents for money
BY LAUREN FITZPATRICK Sun-Times Media October 11, 2011 8:55AM
Ehab Qasem, 19, of Hickory Hills; Mohammad Salahat, 17, of Chicago Ridge and Christopher Wyma, 17, of Bridgeview were each charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the Sept. 10 deaths of John and Maria Granat.
Updated: January 23, 2012 4:06AM
He needed help.
He hated his parents, authorities said, and knew they kept cash in the family home his father had built.
So the only son of Maria and John Granat conspired with three friends to kill them and split the cash they’d find, prosecutors said Tuesday.
They met Sept. 10 in the afternoon in the spacious Granat home in unincorporated Palos Township and chose a code word to later set the plan in motion — John Granat Jr., 17; Mohammad Salahat, 17, of Chicago Ridge; Christopher Wyma, 17, of Bridgeview; and Ehab Qasem, 19, of Hickory Hills; Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said.
John Granat Jr. was charged last month in the double homicide. He is being held without bail in the psychiatric unit of the Cook County Jail. His friends were ordered held without bail on murder charges Tuesday.
Granat’s story that he woke up Sept. 11 to find his parents dead quickly fell apart, Dart said. His initial contention that he had been with his friends didn’t hold up when all three denied seeing him.
But further questioning Sunday and Monday broke down the accused accomplices, who confessed on videotape to their parts in the brutal attack, Dart said.
Maria Granat’s sister cried quietly in the crowded courtroom in Bridgeview as Assistant State’s Attorney Peter Troy laid out prosecutors’ case:
Hours after their afternoon meeting, as his parents slept in their house, John Granat Jr. called and messaged his friends with the code word: Concert.
Salahat drove Wyma and Qasem to the home in the 12700 block of South 81st Court, and Granat let Wyma and Qasem inside. The three went upstairs to the Granats’ bedroom with baseball bats. Wyma attacked the husband, who awakened and tried to fend off his attackers. Qasem beat the wife.
“Finish them off,” the son told Qasem, handing him a knife. Qasem stabbed Maria Granat two to four times and gave the knife to her son, who kept stabbing her, Troy said.
The three ransacked the house looking for money, then went to Wyma’s house to clean the weapons and burn their gloves.
On his way home about 5 a.m., Granat was stopped on Harlem Avenue near 122nd Street by Palos Heights police on a minor traffic violation, an event that later unraveled his story of being home all night.
Shortly after 7 a.m., Granat called 911, saying his parents were dead.
The teens split $35,000, Troy said; $21,000 was recovered, along with baseball bats and a knife in hiding places the teens revealed to police, Dart said.
Salahat’s attorney, Joel Brodsky, pointed out his client was accused only of driving the others around.
“He was not involved in any violent offense,” Brodsky told the judge.
Wyma’s father, a Palos Hills police officer, sat in court during the hearing but left without commenting.
Granat and Wyma are seniors at Stagg High School in Palos Hills, their attorneys said, though a school district spokeswoman said only one of the four accused teens was a student there. She would not say which one, though, or if others are former students.
Salahat attends Oak Lawn Community High School, a district official said. Qasem graduated from Stagg and now studies at Moraine Valley Community College, his attorney said.
Speaking from the family’s Hickory Hills home, Diaa Qasem, 17, said his older brother, Ehab, had never been in trouble before.
“I don’t think he would do something stupid like that. He respects family. He’s not a criminal,” Qasem said. “We don’t know what happened or who to believe. We all think he’s innocent.”
All four are to return to court Oct. 31.
Contributing: Susan DeMar
Lafferty, Casey Toner