Maria s Sister Brings the Granats Back to Life in Double Murder Trial

BRIDGEVIEW, IL — John and Maria Granat were more than the gruesome crime scene photos and bags of skull and jawbone fragments that accompanied their bodies to the Cook County Medical Examiner the morning of Sept. 11, 2011.

Testifying in the double-murder trial of their son and his friend, Maria Granat’s younger sister, Katarzyna “Kathy” Sieczka, recalled the hard-working couple who had immigrated from Poland and achieved the American Dream.

Her nephew, John Granat, charged in his parents’ murders, kept his head down at the defense table during Sieczka’s life-and-death testimony as she brought John and Maria back to life. Except for when his parents’ autopsy photos were on display, their son has kept his head down for most of his trial.

Sieczka has been a constant presence throughout the trial, along with the rest of John and Maria’s siblings and relatives sitting in the hard wooden benches in Room 110 at the Bridgeview Courthouse.

Maria was five years older than Sieczka, who is the same age, 42, that her sister was when she died. Sieczka glanced at her nephew just long enough to describe the shirt he was wearing when asked to identify him in the courtroom.

Her sister was born on Aug. 23, 1969; her brother-in-law on Aug. 29, 1967, details lost to their son, who could not recall his father’s birth date for the 911 operator.

John and Maria met and fell in love when they were teenagers in Poland. John came to the United States in the mid-1980s; Maria followed in 1986.

The couple married in 1987. Sieczka recalled for Cook County prosecutor Donna Norton how her brother-in-law worked two jobs — at a steel factory and cleaning schools in the evening. His wife would help him clean the schools.

After Maria gave birth to the couple’s only child in 1994, a boy named John after his father, the older Granat began building the family’s home at 12762 81st Ct. in unincorporated Palos Park. A skilled tradesman, John also built the house next door. He worked with his brothers — an electrician and plumber — in his construction business, building and remodeling homes.

The couple bought and managed four apartment buildings. They owned other homes. The father, John, employed his son as a maintenance worker. Young John was paid to do chores at his parents’ apartment buildings, cleaning and vacuuming hallways, mowing lawns and trimming bushes.

During his interrogation video at Cook County Sheriff’s Police headquarters the afternoon after the discovery of his parents’ bodies in their blood-soaked bedroom, young John complained that he once cut down an entire tree by himself at one of his father’s properties and only got paid $20.

Other siblings came over from Poland settled in the south suburbs. Sieczka and her older sister talked almost every day. The family frequently got together for parties and dinners. The last time she saw Maria was a week before her death.

The morning of Sept. 11, 2011, Cook County Sheriff’s police officers told her that her sister and brother-in-law had been murdered. She identified their bodies, what was recognizable, at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

On the mantle in one of the horrific crime scene photos of the couple’s bedroom were pictures of Pope John Paul II, John and Maria on their wedding day, and a smiling, chubby-cheeked baby.

“And who is in this picture,” Norton asked.

“That’s John as a baby,” Sieczka said.

The trial of the People vs. John Granat and Christopher Wyma will resume Tuesday. Judge Neil Linehan told both juries to expect to get evidence on Wednesday.

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By Lorraine Swanson (Patch Staff) – January 17, 2017

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