Murder trial continuesThe alleged efforts of Janelle Cave and Leron Lee Howard to hide Abdi Ali Ahmed’s body and other evidence were at the center of the second day of prosecution testimony in Cave’s murder trial.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The alleged efforts of Janelle Cave and Leron Lee Howard to hide Abdi Ali Ahmed’s body and other evidence were at the center of the second day of prosecution testimony in Cave’s murder trial.
Witnesses Thursday also described the process of collecting evidence in the case, which is being heard in Southeast District Court with Judge Thomas E. Merrick presiding.
Cave, 22, and Howard, 34, both of Jamestown, are charged with murder and criminal conspiracy in the April 30, 2011, death of Abdi Ali Ahmed, 18, Jamestown. Both charges are Class AA felonies and carry maximum penalties of life in prison without parole.
Howard, who is also known by the nickname “Rah Rah,” is scheduled for trial on Aug. 7.
Delmonte Jones of rural Stutsman County described receiving three calls from Howard at about 5 a.m. on April 30, 2011.
“I talked to him briefly to tell him it could wait til morning,” Jones said. “Then I saw lights coming down the driveway and it was Rah Rah and Janelle Cave.”
Jones said the pair brought a sword or long knife wrapped in a blanket into his home.
“Rah Rah asked to use my well and I asked why,” Jones said. “He said to put a body in it and I told them to take it down the street.”
Jones also testified Cave had said “He’s not down with it” to Howard as they were leaving the home, meaning she believed Jones was opposed to the body being dumped in his well.
Ahmed’s body was discovered about 0.2 miles from Jones’ home in a road ditch.
Jones said he thought the pair had been drinking and didn’t recall the exchange even when he was initially questioned later that morning by detectives.
“Then I got a phone call from Rah Rah,” he said. “I told them I had police all over and he said ‘I know why they’re there.’”
Jones said he then returned to talk to the detectives.
“I asked if the body was shot or stabbed and when he said ‘stabbed’ I told them someone had been to my house with a sword,” he said.
Jones then called Cave while detectives with the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office recorded the conversation. The tape was played as evidence; Jones is heard to say “Y’all didn’t do what I think you done,” to which Cave is heard replying with expletives.
David Ogren, Cave’s court-appointed attorney, challenged several parts of Jones’ testimony as inconsistent with recorded interviews he previously had given to police.
“I am unable to find where you related the ‘He’s not down with it,’ in any interview,” Ogren said.
In other testimony, Kayla Zimney, rural Stutsman County resident and Howard’s former girlfriend, became emotional when she described spending time with him during the afternoon of April 30.
Zimney was pregnant with Howard’s child at the time and met with him because she thought they would discuss future plans.
Instead, she said Howard had her drive him around as he dealt with possible evidence including a black zippered sweatshirt.
“Howard told me to throw it away,” she said, breaking down in tears. “I wouldn’t have thrown it away if I’d have known what it was from.”
The black sweatshirt was recovered from where it was placed in the garbage by a homeowner. Lab tests introduced into evidence Wednesday indicated the shirt belonged to Ahmed.
Zimney also identified other places she drove Howard to before the pair was arrested in her car on the evening of April 30. She was not charged in the case.
The final witness of the day was Special Agent Arnie Rummel of the North Dakota Crime Bureau. Rummel described gathering evidence from Cave’s car, a garbage Dumpster at an apartment Howard visited and Cave’s cellphones.
Rummel displayed sweat pants of two sizes, a T-shirt and shoes that had been submitted for lab analysis. His testimony is scheduled to continue Friday.
The trial is scheduled to continue until the later part of next week when it could go to the jury of 10 men and four women, including two alternates, for deliberation.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com