3rd molars play role in Minn. murder case

The development of an accused murderer's third molars are being used to determine whether he should be tried as an adult in a Minneapolis triple murder case.

The lawyer of Mahdi Ali argued in court August 24 that his client was only 15 years old when three people were killed at a south Minneapolis convenience store in January, according to stories in the Star Tribune.

The defendant's wisdom teeth have been a focus of testimony in a hearing to determine whether the case should be moved to juvenile court. The difference will determine whether Ali is tried as an adult or a juvenile and could decide whether he spends the rest of his life in prison.

The judge ordered dental exams of Ali after his defense lawyer argued that authorities wrongly listed Ali's age as 16. Ali was born in Kenya in a refugee camp on August 25, 1995, meaning he was 15 at the time of the murders, according to his lawyer.

But forensic dentist Anthony Cardoza, D.D.S., testified August 24 that, based on his analysis, Ali was between 13.95 and 19.65 years old in late April, which yielded a likely mean age of 16.8 years.

He reached the number by viewing x-rays and growth profiles for molars and plugging results into a computer that takes ethnicity, gender, and country of origin into account. When the dentist was asked by the defense attorney if he could say with "a reasonable degree of scientific certainty" that Ali was 16 or older on January 6, Cardoza said, "No, I cannot," according to the story.

The judge already has ruled that the state made a preliminary showing that Ali was 16 at the time of the killings based on birth dates the defendant has used in the past to obtain identification.

Copyright © 2010 DrBicuspid.com

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