Downers Grove man guilty in mother's 2013 murder
A Downers Grove man faces between 45 years and life in prison after being convicted Thursday of firing a single, fatal shot into his mother's head outside a Burr Ridge church.
A 12-member DuPage County jury deliberated for roughly two hours before convicting Michael Bassaly, 30, of first-degree murder.
Bassaly, an Egyptian immigrant, testified Thursday he was "under stress" in August 2013 after learning Homeland Security agents were investigating him for fraud in government asylum applications.
Bassaly testified he knew he was breaking the law but believed he was helping Christian Egyptians flee the Egyptian uprising that began in 2011.
He said he was afraid of being deported because the Muslim Brotherhood would kill him "as soon as (I) stepped foot in Egypt."
He said he also feared his mother would be killed as a result of his work.
Prosecutors argued it was that "twisted logic" that caused Bassaly to lure his 61-year-old mother to the remote parking lot of St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Burr Ridge at 1 a.m. Aug. 29, 2013, under the guise of praying the stress away, so he could kill her and eventually himself.
Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Lindt said Bassaly fired the single shot into Yvonne Bassaly's temple.
"He decided it was best for her to die, and he made that decision for Yvonne," Lindt said.
Police found her in the back seat of a parked 2005 Cadillac after Bassaly called 911. She was pronounced dead within the hour.
A hysterical Bassaly can be heard telling the 911 operator: "I shot my mom. I shot my mom. She's still alive. I shot her in the brain."
Lindt said the 911 call was all jurors needed to hear.
"Three times in the first 16 seconds of that 911 call, this defendant tells you he's guilty of first-degree murder," she said.
Detectives found a sealed envelope on the dashboard of the mother's car 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 later directed investigators to his home. There, police found copy machines, passports, checks, business cards and letterheads falsely identifying him as a lawyer, authorities said.
Bassaly testified he wrote the letter "on a whim" several days before the killing when he was brainstorming how he and his mother were going to "handle (the) situation."
But he said he was no longer considering the murder-suicide plan as an option on the morning of Aug. 28 after he met with his attorney, Marc Wolfe, and discussed his fraudulent asylum case.
Bassaly testified his mother wasn't convinced they had found a solution to their problems and she woke him up that night to go pray at the church.
Once they got to the church, Bassaly said his mother got in the back seat of the car and began to pray. He said he heard her crying and looked back to find her holding his gun to her head.
"I tried to grab the gun and I jammed my finger in the trigger and the gun just went off," Bassaly told jurors. "I went crazy. I didn't know if it went off from me or her."
Lindt pleaded with jurors not to believe "this was an accident."
"Murder happened. The defendant planned every step," she said. "But he just couldn't take that last step. He couldn't kill himself. He saw what he just did to his mother and he just couldn't do it."
DuPage State's Attorney Robert Berlin said Bassaly "unsuccessfully tried to convince a jury that his mother took her own life. Today, a jury saw through his lies and feeble attempts to avoid responsibility for the murder of his own mother by claims of suicide."
Bassaly has been held without bail since he was charged the day of his mother's death. His next court date is scheduled for March 22, at which time a sentencing date likely will be set.