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Teen Found Guilty In Seward Market Murders

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A jury has found a teenager guilty in the shooting deaths of three people at a Minneapolis market in January 2010.

Mahdi Ali, 18, was found guilty on three counts of first degree murder, one count of first degree premeditated murder, and two counts of second-degree murder.

“We got what we want and he got what he deserved,” said Fethi Mohammed, the brother of one of the victims.

Three people were killed during a hold-up at the Seward Market on the night of the crime — the store owner, along with his cousin and another customer.

The victims were Osman Jama Elmi, 28, of St. Paul; Mohamed Abdi Warfa, 30, of Savage; and Anwar Salah Mohammed, 31, of Brooklyn Park.

“It’s hard to measure the impact this has had on our lives, because it’s really immeasurable,” said Abdi Mohamed Warfa, first cousin of two of the victims. “We do think the verdict is just. Why do we think so? Well, when anyone can walk into a grocery store and in the span of 62 seconds take away three lives, they have no respect for the sanctity of humanity.”

Jury deliberations started Thursday after closing arguments were finished.

Before the jury went home on Thursday night, they asked to see the surveillance video from inside the store again. The state relied heavily on the video from the night the attempted robbery and murders took place.

“We feeling very sorry and very painful about what happened to the Seward Market families,” said Ali’s Aunt, Ayan Abukar.

Abukar added that she feels the verdict isn’t fair, since Ali was a juvenile when the murders happened. She said that Ali was a good boy growing up, who came to America from Somalia. His mother, Sainab Osman, echoed the same feelings in her native Somali language.

Prosecutors also had testimony of an 18-year-old accomplice who said he was with Ali when the crimes happened. In exchange for his testimony, the teen entered a plea agreement and will be going to prison.

Prosecutors said Ali started shooting when a customer interrupted a robbery, but Ali’s lawyers argued that he was not the shooter, and instead, it was the accomplice.

“I lost part of my life. My life is nothing without my husband,” said Chaltu Nur, the wife of one of the men killed.

Prosecutors said another key piece of evidence is the testimony from a former cellmate of Ali’s who said Ali confessed to the killings. And finally, victims’ blood was found on Ali’s pants.

“We, as a prosecution team, are pleased with the jury’s verdict this afternoon,” said Bob Streitz, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney.

Sentencing is set for Oct. 25. Ali will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, without the possibility of parole.

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