Mahdi Hassan Ali gets life sentence with no parole.


undefinedHalkaan ka akhri

Minneapolis — A judge sentenced Mahdi Hassan Ali on Monday to life in prison with no possibility of parole for his role in a January 2010 triple homicide at the Seward Market and Halal Meat on East Franklin Street in Minneapolis.

He’d been found guilty Sept. 23 on four counts stemming from what police described as a botched robbery attempt in which Osman Jama Elmi, 28, of St. Paul, and Mohamed Abdi Warfa, 30, of Savage, were gunned down while they stood at the store’s front counter. A customer, Anwar Salah Mohammed, 31, of Brooklyn Park, was shot dead when he came in to buy a phone card.

“I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that you will be spending the rest of your life in prison,” Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill told Ali. Cahill said he wanted to make sure Ali never got out of prison for the murders.

Elmi’s cousin, Abdirizak Warfa, said Ali has demonstrated that he should never be allowed out of prison.

“Today when he was sentenced, he had not a single emotion in response to what was happening. It shows you how crucial it was that he be sent to life without the possibility of release,” Warfa said.

The crime was the city’s first triple homicide since 1996 and shocked the Minneapolis Somali community. It prompted a public appeal from Mayor R.T. Rybak and police Chief Tim Dolan for cooperation in solving the crime. And within days, with the help of the community, police charged Ali and another man, Ahmed Shire Ali, in the crime.

Mahdi Hassan Ali’s lawyer, Fred Goetz, argued unsuccessfully ahead of the trial that his client was 15 years old at the time of the shootings, not 17 years old, as he was identified on his driver’s license, his constitutional rights could be violated if he were tried as an adult.

Had Goetz won, Ali might have been tried in juvenile court and convicted of murder, and would not have been subject to the life without parole sentence. Once the trial was underway, Goetz then argued his client was not the shooter. Security video and physical evidence presented at trial linking Ali to the crime said otherwise.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Shire Ali pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted first-degree robbery in June as part of a plea deal in which he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

Ali faced two counts for each man he killed: one count of first degree, premeditated murder and one count of murder in the first degree while committing or attempting to commit aggravated robbery. The jury found him guilty of first degree murder in four of the six charges. For the other two, they found Ali guilty of second degree murder — meaning that they didn’t find the killings of Anwar Mohammed and Mohamed Warfa to be premeditated.

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