A jury was selected on Monday for the trial of Wael Ali, 23, of Columbia, who is accused in the 2007 death of his twin brother Wasel Ali. Wasel Ali died of a neck injury in Columbia, according to investigators.
Wayne Kirwin, spokesman for Howard County Circuit Court, said that opening statements in the trial will begin at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
On Monday, Judge Richard S. Bernhardt asked potential jurors a series of questions.
He asked if any of them would have a problem with the defendant’s Middle Eastern ethnicity or Islamic faith. None did. He asked if any of them knew about the case before entering the room. None admitted to any knowledge. He asked them if they would be OK viewing graphic images. No one had a problem. And he advised them the death penalty would not be asked for in this case.
Some potential jurors knew a few of the possible witnesses in the case, when asked by the judge. The witness list included members of the Howard County police force, U.S. Military, Arlington police and individuals from as far as Ontario, Canada and Birmingham, AL. If there were any indication of possible bias, prospective jurors were brought in front of the judge for a consultation with defense attorneys and prosecutors, then sent back to their seats.
In the back row of the courtroom sat Wael Ali’s family and friends, about six people. When the potential jurors were given a 10-minute recess and slowly filed out of the courtroom, Ali’s family remained seated in the back. The trial is expected to take about two weeks.
Wael Ali in September of 2011, after a lengthy investigation by Howard County police resulted in him being charged for his brother's murder.
The brothers had a turbulent past and . They went absent without leave from U.S. Army boot camp in 2007 and were arrested in 2007 after investagors found a U.S. government-issued handgun on the brothers during a search in Arlington, VA on August 17.
The day Wasel is believed to have been killed, August 22, 2007, their home was searched by Howard County police in relation to the Arlington case. That same day Wasel admitted to an ongoing theft scheme at Banna Republic at the Mall in Columbia and implicated Wael. Wael went to pick him up.
They are last seen on a surveillance tape together at 6:45 p.m., but then part ways. Police said Wael Ali’s whereabouts are unaccounted for in the 25 minutes after the two left the mall, until he calls a friend, distraught and saying his brother has gone “missing.”
Investigators claim those 25 minutes provided enough time for Wael to kill Wasel.
In February, Wael was , but in March his attorneys told Judge Bernhardt he is l.