Ahmed Muafaq Abdulhussain Al Naddf dreamed of coming to the U.S. and becoming a citizen to give his children a “beautiful future,” his widow, Hanadi Al Shaikhli, said Wednesday morning.
The couple and their two young children moved to Rochester in November 2014. Less than four years later, Al Naddf was dead.
Al Shaikhli spoke in Olmsted County District Court of her husband’s wishes for his family’s future and the last moments they shared together on March 12, 2018, before he died as a result of a single gunshot wound.
Sao Yim, 26, pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder-without intent and possession of ammo/firearm-conviction or adjudicated delinquent for crime of violence in connection with the shooting death of 40-year-old Al Naddf on Charles Court Northwest in Rochester. Yim allegedly shot Al Naddf following a verbal argument over whether Al Naddf hit Yim’s car.
The court trial began Tuesday in front of Judge Kathy Wallace.
On the night of March 12, 2018, Al Shaikhli was putting the couple’s two young children to bed when her husband said he was going to clean out the garage of their apartment on Charles Court Northwest. He told her that when he got back, they would drink coffee, eat some watermelon and plan where to go for spring break. About 9 p.m., Al Shaikhli said she heard the sound of a gunshot and then a little while later saw an emergency vehicle – she assumed an older neighbor was needing medical care.
“I didn’t expect it was for Ahmed,” she said.
When she heard a knock on her door about 11 p.m., Al Shaikhli asid she assumed it was her husband and that his hands were full. Instead, it was the police. She hadn’t realized how late it had gotten and thought maybe her husband had been in a car accident. Police had her try calling her husband’s phone, but it was turned off. They then told her they needed her to come outside and see if she recognized someone.
“I was hoping he was maybe unconscious or something," she said. “Before I went there, I knew it was him but I was hoping he was not the person.”
After identifying her husband’s body, Al Shaikhli had to be helped back to her apartment by two officers, unable to walk herself, she said.
First to take the stand Wednesday was Rochester police officer Joel Koch. An investigator with the department and a member of the crime scene unit, Koch was tasked with taking photos of the crime scene and any evidence gathered on March 12 and 13 while executing a search warrant at 2802 Charles Court Northwest.
Through Koch's testimony, prosecutors displayed about two dozen photos of the area surrounding where Al Naddf's body was found as well as inside the apartment where Yim and others were located in the hours after the shooting. After getting a search warrant, police found Al Naddf's white iPhone hidden between the mattress and the box spring in the apartment's west bedroom. The phone’s SIM card had been removed, Sgt. John Fishbaugher said.
Officer Kelly McMillin testified that he attempted to put the white iPhone on "airplane mode" to limit the possibility of someone attempting to destroy evidence on the phone remotely but was unable to do so. McMillin did use the phone to dial 911 in an effort to learn the phone number assigned to that phone. Through objections from Yim's defense attorneys, McMillin was not able to testify about what he learned from dispatchers and if that number was Al Naddf's.
Shoved into a floor register, officers located two ammunition magazines, an opened box of ammunition, an empty box of ammunition and a handgun wrapped in a plastic bag. Fishbaugher later testified that while the KelTec pistol did not have a magazine in it at the time it was found, there was a live round in the chamber and the safety was off.
Fishbaugher also located a wallet containing two identification cards belonging to Yim in the bedroom. Three jackets were also taken as evidence.
Prosecutors also played a 10-minute video taken from Fishbaugher’s body camera that showed the discovery of the magazines, ammunition and gun in the floor heating register and how officers handled them with gloved hands before bagging them as evidence.
Through Sgt. Eric Strop's testimony, Judge Wallace was able to see a 360-degree view of the crime scene in the hours after the incident. During previous questioning of police officers, defense attorneys repeatedly asked about lighting conditions. Using the images Strop captured, he testified that the nearest streetlamp to Al Naddf's body was about 51-1/2 feet away.
Responsible for collecting DNA swabs from the magazines, ammunition boxes and the handgun, Community Service Office Angela Schumacher testified about the process. Schumacher said she did not find any latent fingerprints on any of the items. The fingerprinting was done after she swabbed the items for DNA.
"Generally, if I swab an entire surface, no fingerprints are found," Schumacher said during questioning by Lauri Traub, one of Yim's defense attorneys.
"Is it possible in swabbing you destroyed any latent fingerprints?" Traub said.
"It's possible," Schumacher said.
Schumacher also took DNA swabs of Al Naddf's hands and his pockets, which she said was done in case someone tried to get something out of them.
Last to testify Wednesday afternoon was Yim's then-girlfriend, Christina Mandan. Mandan was at her Charles Court Northwest apartment that night with Yim and his friends when she and Yim went out to smoke a cigarette. While outside, Mandan said the pair noticed a car "driving a little weird" and then hit the back of Yim's car.
Yim went back inside Mandan's apartment, told his friends, and then a group of men left her apartment. Mandan stayed in her apartment and a short time later heard a loud bang, which she described as sounding similar to a "snowball hitting the window." She said she went and looked out the back window and saw a person laying on the ground and Yim and his three friends "take off" in two groups of two.
A short time later, Yim and another person she knew only as Eric returned to her apartment and went upstairs to her bedroom. Mandan said it was Yim who told her to call police that March evening.
The trial is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Thursday. Prosecutors are likely to rest their case Friday.