Palos teen killed parents: Sheriff
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by Laura Bollin
A 17-year-old Stagg High School senior was charged Tuesday with the murders of his parents, whose bodies were found inside their Palos Township home Sunday morning.
John M. Granat, 17, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the slaying of his parents.
John Granat, 44, and Maria Granat, 42, were found dead in the bedroom of their home at 12762 S. 81st Court, in unincorporated Palos Park at 7:12 a.m. on Sunday.
Granat appeared at a bond hearing Tuesday morning at the 5th District Courthouse in Bridgeview.
Circuit Court Judge Peter A. Felice denied Granat bond because of the seriousness of the crime.
If convicted, Granat could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. He is being held at the Cook County Jail in Chicago.
Granat is to be tried as an adult, as 17 years old is considered an adult in the Illinois court system, said Andy Conklin, a spokesperson for the Cook County Stateís Attorneyís office.
Six relatives of the Granat family sat in the front right row of Judge Feliceís courtroom during Tuesdayís Bond hearing.
John Granat was an only child. He appeared in court in a white, hooded jumpsuit, and did not speak during the hearing.
The Cook County Medical Examinerís office had ruled the deaths of John and Maria as a double homicide on Monday.
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A spokesperson for the medical examiner said the cause of the deaths in both cases were multiple blunt force injuries and assault. The medical examiner ruled the time of death between 10 p.m. on Saturday and 4 a.m. on Sunday. Both people suffered injuries to their torsos, hands, and faces. Maria Granat was stabbed repeatedly.
The teen called police around 7 a.m. and allegedly reported that he had been asleep in the basement, and woke up to find both of his parents dead, police said.
During the 911 call, Granat had told police he woke up to find the house ìransacked,î Assistant Cook County Stateís Attorney Peter Troy told Judge Felice.
ìResponding law enforcement discovered the body of John Granat on the floor of the bedroom at the foot of the bed,î Troy said.
There were contusions on the fatherís torso, and lacerations on his jaw and forehead, Troy said. His teeth had been knocked out due to force, and his jaw had been fractured. His liver was cut due to the blunt trauma. Maria was found on the bed, with lacerations on her head and face, causing skull and facial fractures, and stab wounds on the left side of her torso, causing lacerations on her stomach, liver, and lung.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said investigators did not know if the couple was asleep or not before they were killed. He had no motive yet for the slayings.
In a press conference at the courthouse Tuesday, Sheriff Dart said that Granat had changed his story multiple times during the investigation, first saying that he had been in his home at 8 p.m. and stayed all night, then saying that he had let friends come over to the house during the evening. He also told police that he had been with different people for 18 hours prior to the crime, and all those named by Granat denied being with him any time after 6 p.m. on Sept. 10.
Granat finally told police that a friend needed money, and Granat told the friend they could enter the house, Dart said. When they were inside the home, police found the elder John Granatís wallet with $800 in cash inside on the kitchen counter, and $4,000 in cash was found in the younger Granatís belongings during the investigation. Dart said money was not the motive for the crime. Dart said that Granat had a difficult relationship with his parents, and had made threats to kill them in the past.
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Sheriff Dart said the sonís story began to fall apart when the investigators learned that Granat had been stopped by Palos Heights police at 122nd Street and Harlem Avenue at 5:18 a.m. Sept. 11. Palos Heights Deputy Police Chief Bill Czajkowski said Granat had been stopped for not having an illuminated license plate. During the stop, an officer noticed a bottle of ammonia in the vehicle, which Granat told police was pool chlorine, Czajkowski said.
The teen had never been arrested for a previous crime, nor had the Cook County sheriffís police been called to the home for prior domestic incidents, Dart said. There was no history of mental illness in the family, Dart said.
Granat told police he fell asleep in his car and didnít enter the home until 7 a.m. police said. Dart said there were no signs of forced entry into the home and investigators believe Granat acted alone.
Sheriff Dart said that the medical examinerís office ruled that the weapon used for the blunt trauma was one inch in diameter, possibly a tool. The weapon used in the stabbing was a different weapon, Dart said.
ìWhen you walked into the house, there was the smell of bleach,î Dart said.
ìThe entire house was clean, except for the bedroom. There was a lot of violence in that room. This is truly a horribly tragic event.î
Dart said that John and Maria had immigrated from Poland about 10 years ago. Heirlooms and photographs from Poland were throughout their home, along with images of Jesus Christ and many of Pope John Paul II.
According to Troy, blood was spattered on the walls, ceiling, floor, furniture, and bed in the bedroom.
Dart said that investigators have not determined if drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crime. The teen was a weightlifter, and may have taken athletic enhancing drugs, Dart said.
A District 230 spokesperson stated: ìOur thoughts are with the family and their friends at this time. The schoolís counselors and social workers are available to assist students and staff as they process this tragic news.î
Dr. Jessica Loftus, a local psychologist who practices in Palos Heights, said children kill their parents for a variety of reasons, including abuse and neglect. According to Sheriff Dart, investigators did not believe there was any history of abuse in the family.
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A memorial of roses, candles, flower wreaths and photos of John and Maria Granat sat in front of the lawn of their home Monday evening, a remembrance of the couple friends and neighbors said were a friendly addition to the neighborhood.
One neighbor who lived just down the street from the Granats, said she canít believe such a terrible event happened in town.
ìEverybody waves here, everyone is cordial,î Sue, who declined to give her last name, said.
ìItís astonishing that this happened. Itís not just a tragedy for the neighborhood; it is a tragedy for the family.î
Sue said John worked as a contractor, and Maria cleaned houses for a living. The homeís address was listed on a website as a business address as well, Granat Properties, LLC, which was Johnís construction and contracting company.
ìI watched John build that house,î Sue said, referring to the stately brick home with a manicured lawn and flower wreath on the door that was built 10 or 11 years ago.
ìHe built the house across the street, too. He was always so friendly. This is senseless. They were nice people.î
According to the medical examinerís office, Maria was pronounced dead at 11:45 a.m., and John was pronounced dead at 11:50 a.m.
According to the statement, an initial investigation revealed the deaths to be suspicious in nature, but an official cause of death was not determined until autopsies were completed on Monday.
Granatís next court date is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 20. At that time, his lawyer, Richard Beuke and Judge Felice will discuss his bail. He will appear in court at the Cook County 5th District Municipal Courthouse, 10220 S. 76th Avenue in Bridgeview.
While being processed at the Cook County Jail, Granat requested to be held in protective custody. He is being temporarily held at Cermak Hospital in Chicago. It is the Department of Corrections hospital where he was to undergo a full physical and psychiatric evaluation. Pending the outcome of those evaluations, he will be assigned to a protective custody cell in the jailís maximum security Division 9 while he awaits trial, a spokesperson for Sheriff Dart said late Tuesday.
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Ricky Valencia and Akeem Thurton to be tried for attempted murder of Rodwell Williams
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Posted: 16/09/2011 – 10:20 AM
Author: Aaron Humes
Senior Counsel Rodwell Williams, 54, law partner of Prime Minister Dean Barrow in the firm of Barrow and Williams, was shot last May as he exited his office in downtown Belize City.
Today, the two men accused of committing the act – Ricky Valencia, 28, and Akeem Thurton, 19 – were formally committed to stand trial in the next session of the Supreme Court, at the conclusion of a preliminary inquiry in the #2 Magistrate’s Court.
After receiving the statements and exhibits constituting the evidence against the two accused, Magistrate Ed Usher informed both that a prima facie case had been made against them for attempted murder, use of deadly means of harm and dangerous harm.
Bail was offered in the sum of $8,000 to each man, which only Thurton had met by the end of the court day.
On the night of May 31, 2010 around 8:00 p.m., Williams was shot once in the abdomen in the parking lot behind his office on Albert Street while in the company of a security guard. (The firm’s offices have since been moved to a newly completed building directly across the street from the old offices.) Robbery was ruled out as a motive, as the security guard was searched by the assailants but not harmed.
Williams survived surgeries here in Belize and at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, U.S.A., and has since returned to active practice.
Prime Minister Barrow told the press at the time of the incident that he knew of no plot to kill Williams, nor of any connection between the shooting and an attack on the Barrow and Williams offices on April 15, in which no one was hurt.
Valencia is also accused of conspiracy to commit robbery along with three other persons for the robbery of the Orange Walk Town branch of Heritage Bank on April 5, 2011.