A Tinley Park man jailed on murder charges for allegedly bashing his wife's head in with a weightlifting bar pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Friday.
Bahaa Sam, 47, appeared before Judge Robert Livas via a closed circuit video feed from the Will County jail. Livas allowed the public defender's office to withdraw from the case so Palos Park attorney John Eannace could enter his appearance to represent Sam.
An interpreter translated the proceedings into Arabic for Sam, who is being held in lieu of $5 million bond. Sam allegedly bludgeoned his wife, 38-year-old Nermeen Sam, to death Dec. 19, clubbing her in the head at least 10 times with a weightlifting bar.
Police and paramedics went to Sam's house after a Tinley Park public works employee spotted Nermeen Sam's body next to a tree outside and called 911, police said. Officers reportedly found Nermeen Sam face down in the grass, covered in blood, and the weightlifting bar next to her body.
The cops then went inside and ran into the Sams' blood-spattered 4-year-old son. The boy reportedly told the officers, "Daddy killed my mommy."
The Sams have another son and two daughters.
Sam had been arrested twice before for allegedly beating his wife. The first time, in 2005, he was found not guilty of domestic battery following a trial in front of Judge Jeff Allen but was convicted of resisting police. The second time, following a June arrest, he pleaded guilty and took a sentence of 12 months court supervision.
Nermeen Sam had secured an emergency order of protection against her husband in June but failed to appear in court for a July 19 hearing on whether to extend the order.
In her petition for the protective order, Nermeen Sam said her husband punched her in the face and bit her arm in front of their children and her mother. She also accused Bahaa Sam of hitting and pushing her 64-year-old mother.
Prior to the alleged attack in December, Bahaa and Nermeen Sam reportedly argued over his lack of employment. Bahaa Sam tried to stop his wife from leaving their home and she bit his finger, a prosecutor said at a previous hearing. Bahaa Sam then allegedly chased her outside and beat her with the weightlifting bar.