ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — Opening statements in the Alexander Weiss retrial began Wednesday morning.
The jury is comprised of seven females and seven males, including former Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede. The racial makeup is mixed, and a range of age groups represented. Judge Joseph Chase told jurors they may not discuss the trial proceedings with anyone or among themselves until closing statements.
On January 14, 2018 Alexander Weiss shot and killed 17-year-old Muhammad Rahim following a car crash in northeast Rochester. Rahim was driving one the the cars involved but did not own it.
In May, Weiss pleaded not guilty by means of self defense – claiming the victim threatened his life.
The jury could not reach a verdict, and the judge declared a mistrial.
Before arguments began in front of the jury, Judge Chase denied a motion by defense attorney James McGeeney to allow evidence of Rahim’s acts of aggression and previous drug use.
Chief Deputy Olmsted County Attorney Eric Woodford asked Judge Chase to prohibit McGeeney from asking officers during cross examination about the use of force training those officers went through. Judge Chase ruled that he would not allow it during cross examination, but might allow it for defense witnesses.
In opening statements Wednesday, Woodford presented the jury with details of what happened that cold Sunday morning. He stated Weiss acted unreasonably during a verbal argument by showing a gun, choosing to escalate the situation.
McGeeney, told jurors that Weiss is not saying he did not cause the death of Rahim, but rather Weiss was actually de-escalating the situation by showing his firearm to keep Rahim and another male calm until officers arrived. McGeeney went on to say it was when Rahim tried to take Weiss’s gun a second time that Weiss had to shoot.
Both sides detailed for the jury what they would be seeing as the trial continues.
The first witness to take the stand was Rochester Police Department officer Brian Roussell who was the first on scene. It was during this testimony that jurors watched Roussell’s body cam footage.
Jurors then heard from several other RPD officers, including Tracy Nepper who escorted the witnesses to the government center to give their statements that day. Sgt. Eric Strop also took the stand recalling what evidence he saw, documented and collected.
All the officers were questioned about it was like on that Sunday, the evidence collected, where it was collected and how the witnesses were acting at the time.
Proceedings are set to continue at 9 a.m. Thursday.