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Witnesses take stand in Rochester murder trial

On Tuesday, more than a half-dozen witnesses took the stand, including the person who found Garad Roble’s body, the first law enforcement officer on scene, and agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension who assisted the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office in its investigation.

Muhidin Omar Abukar.png
Muhidin Omar Abukar

The second day of trial continued Wednesday in the case of a Rochester man charged with aiding and abetting the murder of a 28-year-old man in March 2019.

Muhidin Omar Abukar, 32, is charged in Olmsted County District Court with aiding and abetting second-degree murder in the death of Garad Hassan Roble.

Roble was found by a passing motorist in the pre-dawn hours of March 5, 2019, on 45th Street Southeast, between St. Bridget Road Southeast (County Road 20) and Simpson Road (County Road 1). Roble was shot 11 times, including four times in the head.

In opening statements Tuesday, Assistant Olmsted County Attorney Andrew LeTourneau said Roble was "executed."

RELATED: Opening statements begin for Rochester man charged in March 2019 murder
On Tuesday, more than a half dozen witnesses took the stand, including the person who found Roble’s body, the first law enforcement officer on scene, and agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension who assisted the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office in its investigation.

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As the trial resumed Wednesday morning, two special agents with the BCA testified.

Glock found on frozen river by city contractors

Special agent Joe Swenson, a former member of the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office, said he helped collect surveillance footage from The Loop restaurant where Roble, Abukar and others had spent time in the hours before Roble’s body was found on the rural gravel road.

Swenson was also responsible for collecting a Glock handgun that was found on top of the frozen Zumbro River near the Elton Hills Drive Northwest bridge.

The two men who found the gun on March 8, 2019, took the stand Wednesday afternoon. The pair, Andrew Moyer and Justin Zimmerman, were out with WHKS & Company to do a structural analysis on the bridge and had gone under to look at the piers when they found the gun on the ice.

Swenson testified that the .40-caliber Glock had stampings or engravings that said “MSHP” and “Missouri State High Patrol.” The magazine found in the gun also had a marking in silver marker that read “746.” Swenson testified that this could have been a badge number, as it is common practice to mark a magazine with an officer’s badge number for easy retrieval during range shooting.

BCA forensic scientist McKenzie Anderson testified Tuesday that DNA was found on that gun but there was not enough of it to create a profile to test for further identification. The ten shell casings found near Roble's body were determined to be from the Glock handgun, BCA forensic scientist Travis Melland testified Tuesday.

Surveillance footage reviewed

Through special agent Brady Prince’s testimony, jurors saw video taken from a stairwell at Meadow Park Apartments showing Abukar, Roble and others spending about an hour hanging out in the stairwell and coming in and out of the building.

In one clip, Abukar is seen holding a bottle of pop and a bottle of alcohol in one hand and a cellphone in another. Prosecutors are expected to present a large amount of cellphone data showing where Abukar's, Roble's and Iman's phones were in the late night hours of March 4, 2019 and the early hours of March 5, 2019.

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Abukar's attorney Kenneth Udoibok said in his opening statement that the evidence would not show who was carrying the phones.

"The state is going to show that cellphones, multiple, many people's cellphones, Mr. Roble, all their friends' cellphones, were driving around. That is all they can show," Udoibok said Tuesday.

A waitress who served Abukar, Roble and three other people at The Loop on March 4, 2019, also took the stand Wednesday morning. The woman, Rebecca Rose, recalled that one of the men in the group, later identified as Abukar, was "quite inebriated" and that she had to help him count his cash to pay for the group's bill at the end of the night.

Through the testimony of BCA special Agent Chad Layon, jurors watched surveillance video from the Third Street Parking ramp that shows Abukar, another man and two women arriving downtown and being joined a short time later by Roble. Abukar, Roble and the third man left downtown without the women later that night.

Gun magazine found in trash in Northwest Rochester

Rochester police investigator Brock Neumann testified that weeks before Roble's death, police had conducted a trash pull at a residence in Northwest Rochester. As a result of that trash pull, which in this instance involved working with the trash hauler to collect trash bags, police were granted a no-knock warrant. That warrant was executed on March 6 and a second trash pull occurred on March 7.

In the trash collected on March 7, police found a holster and a magazine with "746" handwritten on the side in silver marker.

Abukar was not the intended target of the search warrant and Neumann did not testify that there was any connection between Abukar and the Northwest Rochester residence. Neumann did say that Roble and the person who lived there knew each other.

Two additional investigators with the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office, as well as a friend of Abukar's wife also testified Wednesday.

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A second man is also charged in connection to Roble’s death. Ayub Abucar Hagi Iman is charged with second-degree murder in connection with Roble's death.

Abukar's trial is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Garad Hassan Roble
Garad Hassan Roble

Garad Hassan Roble
Garad Hassan Roble

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