Downers Grove man sentenced to 55 years for murdering mom
Accepting responsibility, but still denying he pulled the trigger, a 30-year-old Downers Grove man was sentenced Tuesday to 55 years in prison for firing a single, fatal shot into his mother's head outside a Burr Ridge church.
A 12-member DuPage County jury convicted Michael Bassaly of first-degree murder in February.
Bassaly, an Egyptian immigrant, learned in August 2013 that Homeland Security agents were investigating him for fraud in more than 120 government asylum applications.
Prosecutors alleged his mother was unaware of the illegal activity and Bassaly did not want her to find out.
"This was the act of a selfish, self-centered person," Assistant State's Attorney Steve Knight told Judge Daniel Guerin during Tuesday's sentencing hearing. "Instead of allowing his mother to find out, he shot and killed her so she would never know he's a criminal."
Bassaly said 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 also said he 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.
Prosecutors said after shooting his mother and watching her suffer, he was unable to turn the gun on himself.
Bassaly, however, still claims he saw his mother put his gun to her head in the back of the car and lunged to stop her when the gun "went off."
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."
Bassaly faced between 20 and 60 years for the killing and an additional 25 years to life for using a gun to kill a victim older than 60.
"This defendant needs to be warehoused in the Department of Corrections for a substantial amount of time so that he knows his chance of ever breathing free air again is nonexistent," Knight said.
With credit for the 1,114 days Bassaly already has served, he would be 82 when eligible for parole.
Before his sentence was handed down, Bassaly told Guerin that he loved his mother with all hs heart and she was proud of the illegal asylum work he was doing to help Christians flee Egypt.
He said he did not know why his mother would kill herself.
"I tried to stop my mom. I tried to grab the gun," he said. "The gun accidentally went off."
Guerin said it was disgraceful of Bassaly to still blame his mother for the murder he committed.
DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said he hopes the sentencing will bring closure to the Bassaly family.
"This afternoon, Michael Bassaly learned that, for the execution-style murder of his mother, he will spend the next 55 years behind bars," Berlin said. "The senseless murder of Yvonne Zaky Bassaly has touched the lives of so many. It is my sincerest hope that the entire Bassaly family will now be able to move forward with their lives as they close the book on this horrible tragedy that has affected them all."