The jury who convicted a man of murder in a fatal Minneapolis parking lot shooting will be recalled for questioning after defense attorneys raised concerns about one juror’s behavior.
Rodney Jackson, 28, was supposed to be sentenced Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court for killing Mohamed Abdi, but that was postponed so the court can bring back every juror who convicted him and determine whether their deliberations were tainted by outside information introduced by a juror.
The development hit Abdi’s family hard. They were expecting a sentencing, where prosecutors had planned to seek a 30-year prison term, until they received news Monday evening about the jury issue.
“I think it’s not fair to me,” Abdi’s father, Abdulkadir Awale, said after attorneys debated the topic. “I’m so sad.”
Jackson’s attorneys, John Conard and Kristin Zinsmaster, filed a motion asking for the hearing, which is scheduled for Jan. 17.
One juror had self-reported in a “Juror’s Evaluation Form” that during deliberations, they instructed other jurors about the “obligation to retreat” from threats and what’s taught in classes for gun owners who want to apply for a permit to carry, the defense wrote.
“…[t]his jury was going for self-defense (sic) and not guilty before I shared whats (sic) taught in permit class,” the juror wrote, according to the defense motion.
The juror portrayed Minnesota law as “more onerous” than the judge’s instructions did, the defense argued.
Jurors convicted Jackson Nov. 1 of second-degree murder with intent and acquitted him of first-degree premeditated murder. Jackson claimed self-defense in the Nov. 6, 2018 killing of Abdi, 18, at the Speedway gas station at 2445 Bloomington Av. in Minneapolis.
According to court documents: Jackson and his girlfriend, Derionna Leake, pulled up to a pump at the station, went into the store and returned to find their SUV blocked by two other vehicles.
Jackson and Leake yelled at Abdi, who was parked in front of them. Leake threw a jar of Vaseline at Abdi.
When the car behind him left, Jackson drove away and parked his vehicle across the street. Surveillance video showed that Abdi threw rocks at Jackson’s vehicle.
Jurors never heard testimony at trial about permit to carry classes, the defense wrote.
“Jurors are not allowed to introduce facts that are not part of the record,” the defense argued.
Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Gretchen Gray-Larson opposed the hearing.
“Jurors are permitted to rely on their own experiences and common sense during deliberations,” she wrote. “…Nothing improper was done by the juror.”
Conard and Senior Hennepin County Attorney Dan Allard briefly presented arguments in court Tuesday before Hennepin County District Judge Kathryn Quaintance.
The judge noted that she instructs jurors not to use their “personal expertise” in order to become the “in-house expert in a particular area.”
“She claims she had an affect on the verdict,” Quaintance said of the juror flagged by the defense. “Jurors are told they are not to do any further research, and they are not to bring in outside expertise.”
The judge granted the defense’s request.
“Thank you, lord,” said a woman with Jackson’s family. “God is good.”
Awale left stunned. Abdi was the fourth of his seven children, and the second to die from murder. In 2015, his oldest child, 21-year-old daughter Ayan Abdulahi, was fatally shot by her boyfriend.
“He was the best child you could ever dream of,” Awale said.
A defense motion for a new trial is on hold pending the result of the January hearing. Leake pleaded guilty to second-degree riot and is awaiting sentencing.
Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708