Trial begins for Downers Grove man accused of fatally shooting mother

  • Michael Zaky Bassaly of Downers Grove is charged with murdering his mother, Yvonne, in Burr Ridge.

    Michael Zaky Bassaly of Downers Grove is charged with murdering his mother, Yvonne, in Burr Ridge.

Updated 2/22/2017 6:20 PM

Burr Ridge police officer Louis Moravecek pulled into the parking lot of St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church just after 1 a.m. on Aug. 29, 2013, to find a hysterical Michael Bassaly holding a cellphone in one hand and a 9 mm handgun in the other.

Moments earlier, police received a 911 call from Bassaly in which he can be heard telling operators, "I shot my mom. She's still alive. I shot her in the brain."


Bassaly, 30, of Downers Grove, now is standing trial on five counts of first-degree murder in the slaying of his 61-year-old mother, Yvonne Bassaly. Her body was found in the back seat of her car in the church parking lot.

By the time Moravecek arrived on the scene and confronted Bassaly, the suspect's story had changed.

"He told me 'It (the gun) went off.' And he said 'My mom wanted me to do it,'" Moravecek testified Wednesday during the first day of the trial.

"The sands of (Bassaly's) guilty mind had begun to shift," Assistant State's Attorney Steve Knight told jurors.

On the dashboard of the victim's car, detectives testified they found a sealed envelope with letters addressed to the FBI in which Michael Bassaly said he killed his mother "to protect her from the result of the investigation" and planned to take his own life.

"He had the gun. He had the plan. He had the gun to his mother's head and he pulled the trigger and killed her," Knight said. "When it was time for his part of the plan to kill himself, he turned into a coward."

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Burr Ridge Det. John Helms read the letter in court Wednesday. In the letter to FBI officials Bassaly directed investigators to his home. There, police found copy machines, passports, checks, business cards and letterheads falsely identifying him as a lawyer.

He also claimed that he had assisted as many as 130 people with making false asylum claims, working with the same attorney who assisted him and his mother with their claims in 2002.

Homeland Security Special Agent Louis Chesly testified that, just days before the slaying, he had started looking into Bassaly, an Egyptian immigrant, in an investigation into fraud related to government asylum applications.

Bassaly's attorney, Marc Wolfe, did not dispute any of the prosecutor's claims during his opening argument. Instead, he pleaded with jurors to "keep an open mind" and "pay attention to all of the evidence."


Bassaly has been held without bail since he was charged the day of his mother's death.

Testimony continues at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

Bassaly told Judge Daniel Guerin, at the end of Wednesday's proceedings, that he is 99 percent sure he will testify in the morning.

"There are some things I feel I need to clarify," Bassaly told Guerin.

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