UPDATED: 7:27 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20
A Tinley Park man beat his wife with a weightlifting curling bar Wednesday as their 4-year-old son watched, Will County prosecutors said Thursday at a hearing for the 47-year-old man.
. An autopsy report stated she was hit in the head more than 10 times. Bahaa Sam is being held on a $5 million bail.
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If Sam posts bond, which is $500,000, he must turn in his American and Egyptian passports to the Will County Sheriff's Office. His next court date is Jan. 11.
"If he walks out those jail doors, I want those passports," said Judge Roger Rickmon.
'Is She Dead,' Bahaa Sam Asks Police
Tinley Park Police responded at about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19, to an ambulance call to the home in the 19700 block of Silverside Drive, a police press release stated. A Tinley Park public works employee had spotted Nermeen Sam's body next to a tree outside and called 911, Chief Steve Neubauer said.
When officers arrived at the scene, they found Nermeen Sam face down in the grass, covered in blood, prosecutors said. Police also reported blood spatters on the sidewalk and driveway, as well as a pool of blood on the grass. The curling bar was on the ground next to the body, prosecutors said.
The first person officers encountered when they entered the Sam home was the couple's 4-year-old son. According to prosecutors, the boy, whose face and clothing had blood spatters, told police, "Daddy killed my mommy."
Police then saw Bahaa Sam, who also had blood on his clothing and skin, prosecutors.
"Are you taking her to the hospital? Is she dead?" Bahaa Sam asked officers, according to prosecutors.
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In an interview with police, Bahaa Sam said Wednesday's incident started with an argument over the fact that he was unemployed. Nermeen Sam went to leave the house, and Bahaa Sam tried to stop her before she bit his finger, drawing blood, prosecutors said.
He then chased her outside with the curling bar, while the 4-year-old son followed, according to prosecutors. Bahaa Sam told police he hit her once in the head, and she fell, adding that he hit her a second time after that.
However, an autopsy report by the Will County Coroner's Office stated she was hit more than 10 times.
A History of Domestic Violence
According to the Will County Circuit Court website and prosecutors, Bahaa Sam was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery, which was reduced to battery, in June of this year. An emergency protective order against him also was filed that same month by Nermeen Sam and the couple's four children, records indicate. That order was dropped in July, and the domestic battery charge was reduced, according to court records.
Bahaa Sam also was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery and resisting a police officer in October 2005, according to Will County Circuit Court records. He was found not guilty on the domestic battery charge and guilty on the charge of resisting an officer, court records state.
Bahaa Sam's Reactions in Court
Bahaa Sam's hearing Thursday was fraught with interruptions by the defendant and a delay while Judge Roger Rickmon tried to find an Arabic interpreter for Sam.
Originally, Sam was to appear at his hearing via closed-circuit TV from the Will County Jail. But he couldn't hear the interpreter the court arranged for him by speaker phone, and Rickmon ordered him brought to the courtroom. Once there, the court continued to use an interpreter over speaker phone.
Rickmon, however, was skeptical Sam did not understand or speak English after the defendant answered at least one of the judge's questions.
"Just so the record's clear, I don't think he needs an interpreter," Rickmon said.
Sam interrupted proceedings at several points to ask questions or dispute facts surrounding the case, speaking partly in Arabic, partly in English at times. When a prosecutor read information about his 4-year-old witnessing the beating, Sam broke in twice, saying "Not Right" in Arabic and, "He's 4-years-old," in English.
Rickmon, through the interpreter, told Sam he needed to stop interjecting and that he could discuss matters later with his lawyer, advising him that his remarks were being recorded and could be used against him. Sam did not interrupt after that and spoke to the judge only to ask why he had to turn in his passports if he posted bond.
"I don't want you to leave the country until this case's resolved," Rickmon said.
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