Reporting Holly Wagner
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A teen who was found guilty last month for the robbery and triple murder at Seward Market in Minneapolis has been sentenced to three consecutive life sentences, without the possibility of parole.
Mahdi Ali, 18, received his sentencing Monday morning for the shooting deaths of three people in January 2010. The judge said it was his intention that Ali never be let out of prison.
When the judge asked Ali if he had anything to say for himself, Ali remained quiet.
Several family members of the victims were in tears at the courthouse on Monday. They held up photos of the victims and said this case has taken a toll on their families.
A cousin of the two victims, Abdi Warfa, said the family feels they got what they wanted, and Ali got what he deserved.
“The fact that he has no emotions, through the trial and today when he was sentenced, he had not a single emotion or response to what happened,” Warfa said. “It shows you how crucial it was that he be sentenced to a life with the possibility of release. So we’re happy with that.”
Family members described Ali as cold-hearted, greedy, vicious and a man who has no respect for human life.
Ali’s attorney Frederick Goetz, said he was not surprised by the sentence.
“The case will now be resolved at the next level, which we always knew where it would end up, whether that be at the Minnesota Supreme Court, or the U.S. Supreme Court, that’s where it’s headed,” Goetz said.
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Goetz has insisted all along that Ali was 15 years old on the night he committed the murders, and argues that it would be cruel and unusual punishment to sentence someone to life in prison without parole for a crime committed at that age.
His request to have a trial to determine Ali’s age, beyond a reasonable doubt, was denied by Judge Peter Cahill.
Despite that, he believes the issue of juvenile crime needs to be addressed.
“I think this is an issue of national importance, that will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court,” he said.
Goetz told the court that who we are at the age of 15 is very different from who we are later in life, and for that reason, a juvenile should never be sentenced to life without parole.
“Juveniles are not adults, in so many ways,” he said. “And to deny that just because a crime happens to be horrific is to really be ignorant to the realities of what it means to be a juvenile rather than an adult.”
In September, Ali was found guilty on three counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree premeditated murder and two counts of second-degree murder.
Osman Jama Elmi, 28, of St. Paul; Mohamed Abdi Warfa, 30, of Savage; and Anwar Salah Mohammed, 31, of Brooklyn Park were killed in the hold-up and shooting.
Ahmed Ali also admitted to helping in the robbery. In exchange for his testimony, the teen entered a plea agreement and will also be going to prison, likely for 18 years.
Prosecutors said a key piece of evidence is the testimony from a former cellmate of Ali’s who said Ali confessed to the killings. The victims’ blood was also found on Ali’s pants.