BRIDGEVIEW, IL , Ehab Qasem, wearing a prison uniform from Livingston County Jail and saying he was there to tell the truth, described for Cook County prosecutor Deborah Lawler and jurors how he and co defendant Chris Wyma held bats over their heads and beat John and Maria Granat to death while their son was downstairs in the garage coolly counting stacks of money.
John Granat and Wyma are both facing 75 counts of murder, robbery and home invasion in connection with the attack in the early morning hours of Sept. 11, 2011.
Lawler guided the now-25-year-old Qasem through his testimony. In exchange for telling the truth, Qasem would plead guilty to one count of murder and serve 100 percent of a recommended 40-year sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections. A fourth co-defendant, Mohammed Salahat, the alleged getaway driver, pleaded guilty in exchange for a similar deal last year.
Qasem described how the four of them — Granat, Qasem, Wyma and Salahat — met at Wyma’s house in Bridgeview. The four walked to the end of the driveway near Granat’s white Chevy Blazer, where they discussed their plans to go over to the Granat home in unincorporated Palos Park.
Granat was to contact Wyma on Skype with the predetermined code word — “Concert” — which meant the couple had gone to bed and it was time to carry out their plan.
“I want it done today. I don’t care how, I want it done quickly,” Granat allegedly told the three teens.
Granat left, and Qasem and Salahat left Wyma’s house to go to the city’s North Side, where they bought a vaporizer to smoke pot. While in the city, Qasem said Wyma texted him to come back to his house with Salahat.
The plan was officially in motion, Qasem said.
When the youths met at Wyma’s house, they hung out while waiting for Granat’s call, Qasem said. Wyma had his laptop computer on his lap on the Wyma’s front porch. At 1:46 a.m.,
Wyma took Granat’s call over Skype and heard Granat say the code word — “Concert.”
After switching Qasem’s car at the Lexington House, where his brother also worked, for Qasem’s father’s van, Salahat drove them over to the Granat house.
“And what was the mood inside the van on the way over to the Granat’s house?” Lawler asked.
“Quiet,” Qasem said. “We were a bunch of idiots going to kill two people and thought nothing of it.”
When Salahat dropped them at the corner, Wyma and Qasem encountered Granat outside the house hiding in the bushes, with a flashlight strapped around his forehead.
Qasem said that Wyma led them behind the house to the service door to the garage, where stacks of money were on a work bench. Both Qasem and Wyma were wearing work gloves that Qasem had purchased earlier at Menards. The two had also removed their shoes and were carrying aluminum baseball bats.
Wiping his eyes and staring at crime scene photos on the stand, Qasem said Granat told them to go upstairs to his parents’ bedroom. On the way upstairs, the two bats clinked together making a loud noise, Qasem said.
“It sounded like metal banging together, like a bell,” Qasem said.
Qasem said that he and Wyma got scared and “speed walked” back to the garage, where Granat was counting the stacks of money.
“John told us to go back upstairs,” Qasem said.
They went back upstairs and stood in front of the sleeping couple’s closed bedroom door, but Qasem balked before going in.
“I told Chris it felt like my heart was in my throat,” Qasem said. “I thought I can’t do this. I realized what we were about to do.”
Wyma started slapping him in the neck, Qasem said.
“[Wyma] said, ‘f— that, are you ready to live like a king,’” he said.
Qasem said Wyma opened the door. The bedroom was dark, except for faint light streaming through the window. The couple’s bed was in the middle of the room.
“Chris walked to the left side of the bed and I walked to the right,” Qasem said. “I could not tell if it was a man or woman sleeping on my side of the bed.”
As they both stood over the sleeping forms for a few seconds, “Chris raised his bat,” Qasem said, demonstrating how Wyma held the bat over his head.
“I did the same thing, then I saw Chris strike first,” Qasem said. “I was hitting around the head area. The bats made a smacking noise, like hitting a tree.”
Qasem said John and Maria began “crying and yelling.” It wasn’t until Maria Granat began to move when Qasem realized he had “the mother.”
“As she cried and yelled, I kept hitting her,” he testified.
John Granat managed to get out of the bed and started chasing Wyma.
“Chris started running for the door,” Qasem said. “I ran toward him to help.”
Qasem swung the bat at the older man’s ribs.
“I hit him on the right side of the head and then the left. He fell and stopped moving,” Qasem said.
Maria Granat was gurgling her last breaths.
“I told Chris to go get the mother. He hit her and she kept gurgling,” Qasem said. “We ran downstairs with our bats to the garage.”
“And where was John Granat?” Lawler asked.
“He was still counting money,” Qasem said.
When Wyma told Granat that his mother was still breathing, Granat told him to “go take care of it.”
Granat grabbed a knife off a shelf in the garage and handed it to Qasem.
“Me and Chris went back upstairs. The mother was still laying on her bed,” Qasem said in a heavy voice, wiping his eyes. “Chris said he had enough.”
“I stabbed the mother in the stomach. I stabbed her multiple times,” Qasem said. “I was scared.”
When Wyma and Qasem went back downstairs, Granat was still counting money.
Testimony resumes Tuesday afternoon. Judge Neil Linehan is hoping to get closing arguments in for Granat
Article Org: patch.com