The Rochester man killed in the March 2018 shooting likely died "very quickly," a forensic pathologist testified Friday morning in the fourth day of the trial for the 26-year-old charged in his death.
Sao Yim Jr., 26, has pleaded not guilty in Olmsted County District Court 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 Ahmed Muafaq Abdulhussain Al Naddf on Charles Court Northwest in Rochester. Yim allegedly shot Al Naddf following a verbal argument over whether Al Naddf had hit Yim’s car. The court trial began Tuesday in front of Judge Kathy Wallace.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Peter T. Lin testified that the bullet hit Al Naddf in the middle of his chest, entered his body and struck his heart and left lung before becoming embedded in Al Naddf's left back.
"Because of the injury to his heart, he would have died very quickly. Within a matter of minutes," Lin said.
In performing the autopsy, Lin noted that he did not find any soot or evidence of stippling on Al Naddf's jacket, which means the gun was fired at a distance greater than 2 or 3 feet.
The third man who was with Yim in the moments leading up to the incident, Deante Stanifer, also testified Friday morning. Stanifer said he knew that neither he, nor two other men -- Eric Lee or Traequan Bamlounghong -- had a gun that night but didn't know if Yim had a gun. Lee and Bamlounghong were called as witnesses on Thursday.
Rochester police Sgt. Steve Beery, who was an investigator in March 2018, spoke with Yim, Bamlounghong and Lucky Thepsombath. Prosecutors attempted to introduce a three-minute video of a portion of the interview with Bamlounghong, but Yim's attorney, Lauri Traub, objected to the evidence.
Defense attorneys and prosecutors in the case argued whether the video and corresponding transcript should be allowed later that day.
Erik Koeppen, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, was responsible for testing the DNA evidence collected by police from a number of items, including Al Naddf's cellular phone, which was found between the mattress and box spring in the Charles Court Northwest apartment where Yim was arrested, two gun magazines, a handgun and a partial box of ammunition.
Yim's DNA was found on Al Naddf's phone as well as a mixture of DNA from four or more people. Koeppen was not able to make a specific person determination on any of the other seven items, including the handgun.
Through questioning from Traub, Koeppen confirmed that a person's DNA can be transferred to an item without the person ever touching that item through a process called secondary or tertiary transfer.
Describing Rochester police investigator Chris Weber's process of putting on gloves, finding Yim's wallet on top of the mattress, lifting a mattress that Yim was known to have slept on and then touching the phone with the same gloves used in the previous contacts, Traub asked if it was possible that DNA from the wallet and the mattress could have transferred from the gloves Weber used to touch them to the phone.
Koeppen said it was a possibility. He would later testify it was unlikely.
Koeppen also confirmed that just because a person's DNA was found on something it didn't necessarily mean the person touched the item or that the person was the last person to touch it.
Attorneys are also to argued whether Koeppen's report will be allowed as evidence and whether a second scientist to tested the swabs taken from Yim, Lee, Stanifer and Bamlounghong would need to testify.
During the course of the trial, four men who were with Yim that March day testified as well as Yim's former girlfriend. Al Naddf's widow took the stand Wednesday and spoke of her husband's dream of moving to the U.S. and the last moments the couple shared before Al Naddf went to clean out the garage. He never returned home. About a dozen members of the Rochester Police Department also took the stand as witnesses for the prosecution.
The trial is scheduled to resume Tuesday morning with continued testimony from Beery.