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Accused murderers of Park couple file motions for separate trials

By Laura Bollin

Three young men who have been charged with first-degree murder in the slayings of a Palos Park couple are now seeking separate trials.

A spokesperson for the Cook County State's Attorney's office confirmed that attorneys for John Granat, 18, of Palos Park; Christopher Wyma, 18, of Bridgeview; and Ehab Qasem, 21, of Hickory Hills; filed motions Jan. 25 that the accused murderers be tried separately. Granat, Wyma and Qasem are represented by public defenders.

A fourth defendant, Mohammad Salahat of Hickory Hills, has already requested a separate trial. Salahat is represented by attorneys Joel Brodsky and Mohammad Ramadan.

The four men allegedly planned and carried out the murders of Granat's parents, John, 42, and Maria, 44, in September 2011. The couple was found dead in the bedroom of their home, 12762 S. 81st Court in unincorporated Palos Park, at 7:12 a.m. Sept. 11. Granat was charged with two counts of murder on Sept. 13.

John Granat was bludgeoned to death, and Maria had been beaten and stabbed, according to police.

Granat and Wyma were seniors and Salahat a junior at Stagg High School in Palos Hills. Qasem is a 2011 graduate of Stagg High, was friends with the defendants, police said.

Wyma and Qasem were reportedly driven to the home by Salahat, who remained in the car, according to Brodsky. Salahat did not know what was happening inside the home, Brodsky has said.

When the youths arrived at the Granat home at about 2 a.m., Wyma and Qasem went with baseball bats upstairs into the bedroom, where Wyma beat the elder Granat and Qasem beat Maria, according to Cook County State's Attorney Peter Troy. Wyma was bludgeoning John, and Qasem was striking Maria, Troy has said. John Granat Sr. woke up during the attack and attempted to fight off Wyma off, at which point Qasem began striking Granat, Troy has said. John Granat Jr. is accused of being present and participating in the beating of his parents.

After the killings, the youths allegedly went to Wyma's home in Bridgeview to wash off the baseball bats and knife, and threw away gloves they wore during the attack. Granat was on his way home when he was stopped by Palos Heights police at 122nd Street and Harlem Avenue because the vehicle he was driving did not having an illuminated license plate. He reportedly had bleach or ammonia in the car. He then returned home, and later called police to report finding his parents beaten to death, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has said.

The baseball bats were found near one of the suspect's homes, the knife in a forest preserve, Dart has said.

The men allegedly planned the murders over Skype, an Internet video chatting service. They knew there was about $35,000 in the home, according to Cook County Sherriff's police.

Granat, Wyma, and Qasemare scheduled to appear in court March 8. Salahat is scheduled to appearing court Feb. 25.