Opening statements begin for second defendant in 2019 Rochester shooting death

(ABC 6 News) – The second day of trial began Tuesday for the second defendant in the 2019 killing of Garad Roble.

Ayub Iman is charged with aiding and abetting second degree murder. This comes after the first defendant charged with second degree murder had a mistrial last December.

That defendant’s name is Muhidin Abukar and the jury was unable to reach a verdict in his trial.

The state and the defense gave their opening statements to the jury Tuesday – made up of 12 jurors and two alternates.

Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem with the state is going to try and argue that Iman was with Roble and Abukar, the other man charged in this crime, the morning Roble died. By putting Iman at the scene of the crime, the state told jurors he aided and abetted in murder.

Prosecutors outlined two major aspects of their case, witness testimony, and cell phone tracking data. Prosecutors said all three men had cell phones on them that night, and various cell phone pings put them together on that early morning of March 5. Prosecutors believe cell phone data shows the three of them drove to the 2300 block of 4th St. SE in Rochester — arguing that then, only Iman and Abukar returned.

Authorities found a handgun on top of the frozen-over Zumbro River on March 8. A bridge inspector working on the Elton Hills Drive bridge called it in, and investigators would later find out it was the gun used to shoot Roble. Prosecutors argued to the jury that cell phone data would show Iman was at that bridge to dispose of the murder weapon.

Attorney James McGeeney, representing Iman, argues that cellphone tracking does not prove that Iman was there. That the phone the state is associating with Iman might not even belong to him. And that no physical evidence links Iman to the crime — no DNA, no blood, and no footprints.

Witness testimony from a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension corroborates this. According to Mackenzie Anderson with a BCA forensics lab, much of the DNA found at the scene was "not suitable for comparison," and none of it matched Iman.

It’s also important to note that Abukar’s trial for his second-degree murder charges ended in a mistrial, meaning the jury couldn’t reach an agreement on if prosecutors could prove without a reasonable doubt that he committed the crime.

The state conceded, saying "what the evidence does not prove is who killed Roble." So, simply associating Iman with Abukar is not necessarily enough to prove he aided and abetted murder.

After opening statements the state called some of their witnesses — primarily setting up the scene of the crime. Jurors heard from the motorist who first found Roble’s body in the road on 4th St. Capt. James Schueller with the Olmstead County Sheriff’s office was the first responding peace officer at the scene. Jurors heard his recollection of March 5 as well as watched his almost 40 minute-long body camera video of him approaching the body.

After hearing from deputies who were there that night, the jury heard from two forensic scientists with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. While there was no significant DNA evidence found on the 10 cartridge casings or bullet fragments found next to Roble at the scene, Firearms examiner Travis Melland did confirm that the cartridge casings came from the gun authorities know to be the murder weapon.

There was a small dispute over what crime scene photos would be permitted in court, as the defense said the images would be too graphic and traumatizing to the jury.