Two trials, two hung juries in Rochester murder case
No word yet on whether there will be a third
ROCHESTER, Minn. — After more than 12 hours of deliberations, a second jury was unable to come to a unanimous verdict in the case of 26-year-old Alexander Weiss.
Shortly before 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, in Olmsted County District Court, the jury foreman, through a note, told Chase "our jury is at an impasse with each person firm in their decision."
Judge Joseph Chase told the 12-member jury that he was "not willing to give up on the possibility of reaching a verdict" and told them to "have lunch, resume deliberations, think it through and talk it through again. Jurors were sent back to deliberate shortly before noon.
Weiss has pleaded not guilty to a second-degree murder charge in connection with a Jan. 14, 2018, confrontation with Muhammed Rahim, 17. The incident followed a Rochester automobile crash involving Weiss’ Subaru and the Chevrolet Cavalier Rahim was driving.
Weiss did not dispute that he caused Rahim’s death but claims he acted in self-defense. It is the state’s burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Weiss did not act in self-defense.
Weiss has testified that Rahim reached for Weiss’ gun. On a second attempt, Weiss said he fired his gun. Rahim’s friends, who were with him at the time of the shooting, have testified that Rahim did not reach for the gun and the shot was unprovoked.
“Mr. Weiss testified, and he said over again, that he did not want to kill Muhammed Rahim but that he felt that his life was in danger,” defense attorney James McGeeney said.
‘Our jury is deadlocked’
Two hours after telling the judge they had reached an impasse, the jury foreman sent a note saying “Our jury is deadlocked and each person is standing firm in their decision. We are unable to come to a unanimous verdict.” A second mistrial was declared at 2:04 p.m. and the jurors were discharged from their service three minutes later with a thank you from Chase for their “extraordinary service.”
Jurors began deliberations at about noon Tuesday in Olmsted County District Court and deliberated until around 8:45 p.m. They returned Wednesday morning and resumed deliberations shortly before 9 a.m.
“Right now, we are disappointed,” McGeeney said shortly after the mistrial was announced. “We were confident and hoping that the jury would acquit Mr. Weiss and vindicate him. We have been through this trial twice now with the same result, and we are frustrated and we were hoping for an acquittal.”
It is not known if the Olmsted County Attorney’s Office will try the case a third time.
This is the second trial on these allegations. Following a weeklong trial this spring, during which Weiss testified in his own defense, a 12-member jury was unable to come to a unanimous decision and Chase, who also presided over the first trial, declared a mistrial.
Weiss remains free on the $75,000 conditional bond he posted on Jan. 17, 2018. His next court date is set for Nov. 26.