Opening statements to begin in Mpls. triple slaying

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

MINNEAPOLIS - Opening statements are expected to begin Monday for a man accused in a triple murder at a Somali-owned market in Minneapolis.

Eighteen-year-old Mahdi Hassan Ali is on trial for the Jan. 6, 2010, killings of three men at Seward Market and Halal Meat.

Court documents say Ali shot the men during a botched robbery.

Testimony in the trial is expected to include appearances by two other young men who were with Ali on the night of the killings. One of them, Ahmed Abdi Ali, no relation, agreed to testify against Mahdi Ali in exchange for a plea to lesser charges.

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Mahdi Hassan Ali's defense attorney, Frederick Goetz, says the identity of the gunman is in question.

Ali's age has also been an issue. Before the trial, Goetz had argued his client was 15 at the time of the killings, not 17. But the state Supreme Court ruled Ali should be tried as an adult.

He faces life in prison without parole if convicted of premeditated first-degree murder.

The jury is made up of eight men and five women. Attorneys will select an additional alternate juror before the trial begins. Prospective jurors were questioned about their feelings on guns, and people of East African descent. They were also asked if they would have a problem looking at graphic pictures and video from a crime scene.

--- The Associated Press contributed to this report.