ROCHESTER — On the March day back in 2019 when 25-year-old Ayub Abucar Hagi Iman was arrested, two cellphones were collected as evidence.
Jurors learned that the new iPhone, activated the day after 28-year-old Garad Roble was found dead, and a flip phone offered law enforcement little evidence as to what its presumed owner was doing in the days before. The testimony came as Iman’s trial continued into its fourth day Thursday, March 31, 2022, in Olmsted County District Court. Iman is charged with aid and abet second-degree murder for his alleged role in the death of Roble.
Roble’s body 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 had died as the result of multiple gunshot wounds, including at least one head wound and another in the abdomen, according to court documents.
Former assistant Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Peter Lin testified Thursday morning that Roble had 11 gunshot wounds, the most serious of which was a shot to his back that entered his lung, heart and aorta before exiting the front of his body.
Through Lin’s testimony, the eight women and six men of the jury saw their first look at the violence Roble suffered. A small amount of autopsy photos were shown to the jury but were not displayed for those in the gallery, including family and friends of Roble and Iman.
Olmsted County Sheriff’s investigator Joel Johnson testified about his initial interview of Muhidin Abukar, 33. Abukar is also charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. A second trial is scheduled for May 2022 after a jury trial late last year ended in a mistrial.
Johnson testified that Abukar gave information that was not truthful and that Abukar’s phone was taken by law enforcement during the initial interview but that Abukar was allowed to leave.
About two weeks after Roble’s body was found, Johnson was tasked with tracking down Iman. Using a phone number law enforcement believed was associated with Iman, investigators used cell phone technology to live track the phone and located it in the area of Waterview Lane Northwest. With the assistance of public property records, Johnson said law enforcement determined that a woman believed to be Iman’s mother lived in that area.
Members of the sheriff’s office went to the residence but Iman was not home at the time. He was arrested later that same day at an apartment complex in Northwest Rochester. At the time of his arrest, Johnson collected an iPhone from Iman and found a flip phone between the driver’s seat and driver’s door in the vehicle Iman was in.
Haweya Jimale, who identified herself in court as Iman’s mother, was also called to testify Thursday afternoon. Questioned briefly through an interpreter, Jimale identified herself as a subscriber on a phone account. Prosecutors had argued the two days prior to have Jimale testify as she had not originally been included on any witness lists submitted to the court. Iman’s attorney James McGeeney argued to have her testimony not allowed because of the late notice.
Olmsted County Sheriff’s Detective Dan Johnson, who serves as a digital forensics investigator, testified that the day Roble’s body was discovered, he was called in to help extract data from Roble’s phone. Through his work, Johnson learned that Roble’s last call was to LaTonya McNeal.
McNeal testified on Wednesday that Roble called her around 2 a.m. on March 5, 2019.
Johnson also conducted interviews of at least two people Roble was seen with at The Loop in the hours before his body was found. One of those people, Aaliyah Nichole Lamb, is expected to testify Friday.
Johnson was also responsible for extracting data from Abukar’s phone, which was turned off around 2:08 a.m. on March 5, 2019. Johnson also testified that phone records indicate that Abukar’s phone and a phone associated with the name “YB” had multiple phone and FaceTime calls between 1:24 a.m. and 2:41 a.m. on March 5.
Rochester police investigator Brock Neumann testified Wednesday that he had previous “incidental” contact with Iman and knew him to have a nickname of “YB.”
Johnson will resume his testimony Friday morning with cross examination by McGeeney.
The trial began Tuesday morning in front of Judge Christina Stevens with opening statements. Jurors heard testimony from four members of the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office and two forensic scientists with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
On Wednesday, nearly a dozen witnesses were called including former employees of The Loop, one of the last places Roble was seen alive. Two civil engineers who found the handgun determined by BCA forensic scientists to be the murder weapon also testified, as did two members of the Rochester Police Department.
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