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Lakeville shooting case muddied by teen's acquittal

The jury's not-guilty verdict brings into question the case against a second man.

Last update: August 24, 2009 - 11:16 PM

After five months in jail, a Burnsville teen was released Monday evening, acquitted of all charges in connection with the shooting of four people in a Lakeville mobile home in March.

Earlier Monday, a Dakota County jury found 18-year-old Jibril Farah Mohamed not guilty of aiding Ahmed Ali, who remains charged as the triggerman.

Early on March 29, a gunman fired seven rounds into a mobile home in the 300 block of Caesar Avenue. The four victims have recovered from flesh wounds to the buttocks, thigh, a hand and a foot.

Testimony from them and others in Mohamed's case has wrought an unintended consequence: it has knocked big holes in the upcoming assault case against Ali.

Jurors concluded in Mohamed's trial that the state likely charged the wrong man with being the triggerman.

To convict Mohamed, the jurors would have had to first agree that Ali committed the shootings; that Mohamed knew that Ali shot at people; and that he knowingly helped Ali by lying to police.

Mohamed's attorney, Jeff Dean of Minneapolis, said none of those elements was proved.

"The evidence showed that Ahmed Ali was not the shooter," Dean said. "It therefore follows that Jibril Mohamed did not and could not have acted to aid Ali. In fact, Jibril did not act to aid anybody. He did not know that anybody in his car had shot at the house."

Mohamed had testified that he drove four acquaintances to the party, where an argument began when the party organizer kicked them out, saying he didn't want Somali people there.

Mohamed said he went to the car, trying to get the others to leave with him. He put the car in reverse and was pulling ahead when shots rang out. At that moment, he testified, he spun around to see Ali getting into the car.

The 16-year-old acquaintance hopped in shortly after that and began screaming "Drive!"

Ali and a fifth man got out of the car and ran into a Cub Foods store. Police arrested Mohamed minutes after the shooting, with the 16-year-old and another young man still riding with him.

The 16-year-old, Mohamed Yusef Hussein, was initially charged with pulling the trigger. But he, his uncle and another man in the car fingered Ali, so prosecutors dropped the charges against the 16-year-old and instead charged Ali, whose fingerprint was found on the ammunition clip of the pistol.

Prosecutor Amy Schaffer declined to comment on the acquittal of Mohamed, and what the implication could be for her case against Ali for second-degree assault.

The 16-year-old has been adjudicated as a delinquent for aiding an offender and cannot be retried as the triggerman.

In court on Monday, Jibril Mohamed smiled broadly as relatives wept upon hearing the verdict. His mother, sisters and other relatives later said that as immigrants, their faith in the American system of justice had been restored by the verdict.

But, as one cousin said, it took five months to do it, and Mohamed, a top student, missed his senior year of high school as he sat in jail.

An alternate juror, Carol Gerger heard the case but was dismissed before the jury voted. "He tried to be a peacemaker," she said of Jibril Mohamed. "He didn't want anything else to escalate. He wanted people to leave."

Gerger said that the forensic evidence was inconclusive and that jurors were left with too many questions to convict Mohamed. "There was doubt here, doubt there, doubt everywhere," she said.

Joy Powell • 952-882-9017

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