ROCHESTER, Minn. - Alexander Weiss’ second-degree murder retrial began Monday and a jury was seated Tuesday.
Weiss is on trial for second-degree murder after fatally shooting 17-year-old Muhammed Rahim after the two were involved in a traffic collision in January of 2018. The first trial resulted in a mistrial after a unanimous decision could not be reached after more than a day of deliberation.
On Wednesday morning, opening comments were made by both sides, and then witnesses took the stand. First was the first Rochester Police Officer who arrived on the scene of the incident back in January.
The prosecution showed the officer’s bodycam footage, along with other photos of the scene taken by other officers.
The judge decided the motions that the defense proposed were denied. The drugs that were found in Rahim’s system, the brass knuckles found on him, and his background will not be allowed to be brought up in the courtroom.
Jury selection started on Monday morning with the judge, along with prosecution and defense, making up a questionnaire for all of the potential jurors to answer before being seated in the courtroom.
Four questions were on the questionnaire:
1. Have you read the news, watched television, or listened to the radio about this case? If so, describe what you remember seeing or hearing.
2. Based on what you’ve read, have you discussed this with anyone?
3. Based on any discussions you have had, have you formed an opinion?
4. If yes, would you have difficulty putting your own opinions aside to make a decision based on the facts stated only in the courtroom?
The defense proposed three motions to the judge.
1. The use of marijuana and Xanax is admissible to show Rahim’s motives in confronting Weiss. The defense says Rahim could’ve been nervous that Weiss would call the police after the car crash, because he was under the influence.
2. Rahim had brass knuckles on him during the incident.
3. Rahim had prior charges including assault.
The defense would also like to include that saliva from Rahim was found on Weiss’s jacket that he was wearing during the incident.
The prosecution disagreed with all three motions. Saying bringing Rahim’s past charges, and drugs into play would only be ‘bad character evidence’.
Once the jurors filled out the questionnaire they were brought into the courtroom where they answered basic questions about scheduling issues, and knowing anyone who has anything to do with the case.
The Judge expects the jury to begin deliberations by Tuesday of next week.
During the first trial, the prosecution and defense called several witnesses to the stand. That included Weiss who testified, saying the shooting was an act of self-defense.
Prosecutors responded to Weiss’ claim by calling his decision to shoot Rahim both “unreasonable” and “unnecessary.”
Defense attorney James McGeeney painted a very different picture of the events that unfolded, saying Weiss was put in a position where he had no other choice.