The attorney for one of four teens accused of beating a Palos Township couple to death says it's unconstitutional to charge his client with a crime that comes with a mandatory life in prison sentence.
Joel Brodsky filed a motion on Thursday to dismiss the murder charges against 17-year-old Mohammad Salahat. Salahat by prosecutors as the driver who remained in a car Sept. 11, 2011, outside the home of John and Maria Granat while Christopher Wyma, 17; Ehab Qasem, 19; and their son John Granat, 18; beat and stabbed the two to death in their bedroom.
Brodsky has said previously that However, prosecutors argue that Salahat was fully aware of what was happening inside the home.
All four defendants appeared in court on Thursday—three dressed in yellow Department of Corrections jumpsuits and the fourth, a khaki jumpsuit. Standing in a semi-circle facing Judge Neil Linehan, they remained quiet as their attorneys took turns addressing the judge.
Brodsky announced his motion to dismiss at the hearing. Salahat was 16 years old at the time he was alleged to have participated in the murder, Brodsky said, and a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling (Miller v. Alabama) states that juveniles cannot be sentenced to life in prison.
"But under Illinois law," Brodsky elaborated after the hearing, "the only option for someone who participated in a double murder, regardless of age, is life without parole. Such a sentence is unconstitutional. And you can't charge [someone with] a crime where there's no sentence [option]."
Brodsky argued that Illinois has no law specifically allowing for the sentencing of juveniles in multiple murder cases.
"Illinois has some real problems with the sentencing statute as it stands today regarding juveniles," he said, noting current state laws do not take facts delineated by the Miller case into account. "There's a real hole in Illinois law when it comes to sentencing juveniles in homicide cases."
Cook County State's Attorney's office representatives did not immediately respond Thursday to a request seeking comment.
All four defendants are scheduled to be back in court on Sept. 18.