Minnesota: Mahdi Hassan Ali gets life sentence with no parole


by Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mahdi Hassan Ali

Minneapolis — Mahdi Hassan Ali has been sentenced 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 that shocked the city’s Somali community.

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.

The bloody shootings shocked the Minneapolis Somali community, and 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.

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email to friend Print