High court explains ruling on teen tried as adultby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis — Three weeks after Mahdi Ali was found guilty of killing three men during a failed robbery attempt last year at the Seward Market in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Supreme Court explains why it allowed him to be tried as an adult.
The court released an opinion Wednesday supporting the court's June decision to uphold a lower court ruling by Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill in September 2010 that a "preponderance of evidence" showed Ali was 16 years or older at the time of the Seward Market shootings in January 2010.
Two weeks after Ali's conviction, defense attorney Fred Goetz filed an affidavit from two people who say they knew Ali's parents and confirm that he was born in a Kenyan hospital in August of 1994. If that's true, Ali would have been 15 years old on the night he committed the murders. Goetz argues it would be cruel and unusual punishment to sentence someone to life in prison without parole for a crime committed at that age.
Goetz is requesting a jury trial to determine Ali's age "beyond a reasonable doubt," which is a higher burden of proof than the one used by Cahill in his earlier ruling.
Ali is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 31. Goetz expects Judge Cahill to rule on his request for a jury trial on the age issue at the time of sentencing. If Cahill rules against the jury trial, Goetz says he wiill file another appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court based on his contention that the life sentence is unconstitutional.