Mahdi Hassan Ali to be tried as adult in Seward triple homicide

Mahdi Hassan Ali will be tried as an adult for his role in January's triple homicide at a Somali market on East Franklin Avenue.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill set up that scenario when he ruled late yesterday that Ali was at least 16 years old at the time he's accused of taking part in the murders.

The Somali immigrant's lawyer had tried to argue that the teenager was 15 years old -- a minor -- despite government documents pegging his age at 17, and dental X-rays suggesting he was about 16.

Police say Ali was the gunman in a robbery gone bad at Seward Market and Halal Meats, that he shot store employee Abdifatah Warfa, his cousin Mohamed Warfa, and customer Anwar Mohammed dead as a video surveillance cameras caught him in the act.

He faces three counts of first-degree murder in a trial scheduled to start in January.

An accomplice, Ahmed Shire Ali -- no relation -- pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated robbery in April.

The three murders were among five in the first eight days of the New Year in Minneapolis. They marked a grim start to a year in which the city's homicide count, now at 33, has now far outpaced the 19 in 2009.

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