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Teen accused of triple homicide will be tried as adult

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Mahdi Hassan Ali
This undated image provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff shows Mahdi Hassan Ali, who along with another teenager was charged with three counts of murder in the Jan. 6 killings at Seward Market and Halal Meat. The teens were charged as adults. They are not related.
AP Photo/Hennepin County Sheriff

The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that a teenager accused of killing three people in a Minneapolis convenience store is old enough to stand trial as an adult.

The court upheld a district court ruling that Mahdi Hassan Ali was 17 years old on Jan. 6, 2010, the date of the shooting at Seward Market. The trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 6.

Ali, who was born in Somalia, does not have a birth certificate. Defense attorney Frederick Goetz said his client was 15 years old at the time of the alleged killings. However, after an age verification hearing last year, a lower court ruled Ali was likely 16 or older. 

At the time of his arrest, Ali carried a Minnesota driver's license listing his age as 17, but his mother testified that her son was 15. 

The Supreme Court has not released a formal opinion explaining its decision. A three-page order, dated June 8, said the opinion was held back "so as not to impair the continuing prosecution of this matter."

According to the criminal complaint, Ali entered the Seward Market with another 17-year-old, Ahmed Shire Ali. Both teenagers wore masks, and Ahmed Ali ordered witnesses not to move, the complaint said. 

Prosecutors said a surveillance video showed Mahdi Ali direct two store employees at gunpoint onto the floor and demand money. The video then shows a customer walk in and interrupt the robbery. The complaint says Mahdi Ali shot the customer and then shot one of the store employees he had ordered to the ground.

Both teenagers left the store, but Mahdi Ali ran back inside and fatally shot another man as he attempted to make a phone call, the complaint said.

Mahdi Ali faces three counts of first-degree murder for allegedly killing Osman Jama Elmi, 28, of St. Paul, Mohamed Abdi Warfa, 30, of Savage, and Anwar Salah Mohammed, 31, of Brooklyn Park.

The other teenager, Ahmed Ali, pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted first-degree robbery. He made the plea agreement in April 2010, vowing to cooperate in the prosecutor's efforts to convict his alleged accomplice.