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North Dakota man found guilty of murder

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North Dakota man found guilty of murder
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

JAMESTOWN (AP) -- A North Dakota man who admitted he hit an 18-year-old Somali man whose dead body was found in a ditch was found guilty of murder and criminal conspiracy Thursday.

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A jury of eight women and four men deliberated for a day and half before finding Leron Howard, 35, guilty of the charges in the April 2011 killing of Abdi Ali Ahmed, 18.

Howard's attorney, Steve Mottinger, had asked the jury to find Howard guilty of a lesser charge of manslaughter.

Howard testified on his own behalf during the five-day trial, saying he hit Ahmed twice but that Janelle Cave stabbed him. A jury convicted Cave in February of manslaughter and criminal conspiracy in the case and she is serving an 11-year prison sentence. She is appealing.

The state medical examiner testified that Ahmed died from two severe blows to his head. He also was stabbed twice. His body was found in a ditch in Spirtwood.

Following the guilty verdict, Judge Thomas E. Merrick ordered a pre-sentencing investigation, which could take up to eight weeks. Howard faces up to a life in prison without parole when sentenced.

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