Hate Crime, Armed Robbery Defendants Reject Plea Deal As Trial Date Reset
Both state and defense given more time to review evidence on the day a jury was to be picked.
Two southwest suburban men, facing a mandatory six to 30 years behind bars if convicted on charges of hate crime and armed robbery, turned down a plea deal Monday that included no jail time.
Prosecutors allege Mohammed Shaban and Akram Alshoweat were arrested for yelling anti-gay slurs in Arabic while punching, kicking and whipping a woman outside a Hickory Hills restaurant in June 2010.
In exchange for a guilty plea, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office offered to reduce the robbery charges to theft and accept two years of probation. Both men, however, clad completely in black and gray dress, told the court they would not accept it.
Defense attorneys Michael Monaco and Gregg Smith contend the woman, a former Olympic Mixed Martial Arts fighter, was the aggressor in the fight. On more than one occasion, Shaban has called the charges "propaganda"—though he refused to expound.
Assistant state’s attorney Mary Ann Jennings said the state got the woman’s permission before offering the defendants probation.
A jury trial slated to begin Monday was postponed again by Judge Colleen Ann Hyland, who has been presiding over the case for almost two years.
According to Monaco, another witness has come forward to make a statement. Jennings, meanwhile, said she only recently became aware of the woman’s Advocate Christ Hospital records, in spite of a police report stating she had not sought treatment following the fight.
Hyland admonished both parties for presenting new evidence this late in the case but reluctantly pushed back the trial date, setting the matter “in stone” for June 5.