Opening Statements Given in Rochester Murder Trial
Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - An Olmsted County jury has a clear choice when it decides the outcome of a Rochester murder case. Either Alexander Weiss feared for his personal safety or he made an “unnecessary choice” when he shot and killed a teenager.
Opening statements were given Tuesday in the trial of the 26-year-old Weiss. He was charged with 2nd-degree murder for killing 17-year-old Muhammed Rahim in Jan. 2018.
The jury was told Weiss stopped his car after seeing Rahim lose control of his vehicle and slide off the road. Moments later, Rahim backed into Weiss’ vehicle and stopped a short distance away. The jury was told Weiss got out of his vehicle and that’s when the incident began to escalate.
Weiss and a teenager in Rahim’s vehicle got into a verbal confrontation. Weiss went to his car to get his phone and call 911 - and also got his gun, which he showed to the teenager. The jury was told Rahim then approached “in a rage” and confronted Weiss and moments later was shot.
Prosecutor Eric Woodford told the jury Weiss “made an unnecessary choice to use deadly force during a verbal confrontation.” Defense attorney James McGeeney painted a different version of what happened, saying Rahim and his friend were threatening to assault Weiss. He told the jury Rahim made physical contact with Weiss and then spit in his face. He said Weiss pointed his gun at Rahim in an effort to get him to back off and when the teenager came at him again, he fired. He said Weiss told police he “didn’t want to kill Rahim and that he just wanted him to stop.” McGeeney said it was a case of self-defense. The jury was told the entire incident lasted about two minutes.
The jury was also told it will hear that the teens had been using drugs. The prosecution is now presenting its evidence. Among those expected to testify are Rahim’s friend and a woman who police say witnessed the shooting.
News update: A Rochester parking ramp will close Wednesday.