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Jurors in Addai murder trial watch portion of police interview before ending for day

UPDATED 5:10 p.m.

UPDATED 5:10 p.m.
FARGO - Testimony in the Elijah Addai murder trial has ended for the day after jurors watched an expletive-laced interview showing Addai, the defendant, repeatedly denying his involvement in David Delonais' death.

Part of the videotaped police interview with Addai was shown to the jury despite technical difficulties earlier in the afternoon. The video offered jurors a chance to hear Addai for the first time and see his demeanor less than three hours after Delonais was killed.

In the video, Addai tells Fargo Police Detective Paul Lies he plans to sue the officer who arrested him and calling Lies' statement that Delonais was dead a "cop trick."

"Nobody's dead," Addai said, later saying only one person was stabbed.

Earlier in the day, North Dakota State Crime Lab Director Hope Olson testified that Delonais' blood was found on two knives and on both of Addai's hands.


One of the knives with blood was a long kitchen knife a police officer found near the area where Addai was arrested. The other knife belonged to Semereab Tesfaye, who is known by the nickname "7-Up," who the defense says is actually responsible for Delonais death.

Also earlier in the day, a Cass County judge ruled that prosecutors could play the videotape showing Addai saying he did not kill Delonais.

Defense attorney Ross Brandborg had filed an objection to the videotape being played, arguing Lies, the detective, could accurately testify to what Addai said.

Brandborg argued the video would be prejudicial against Addai, saying for that reason it should not be shown.

"Clearly my client's acting like a jerk in the videotape," Brandborg said.

Prosecutor Leah Viste told East Central Judicial District Court Judge Cynthia Rothe-Seeger that Addai's conduct was not the issue.

Viste argued the statements Addai makes directly impact the case as witnesses who have testified contradict what he will say, saying it was the most accurate portrayal.

Rothe-Seeger agreed.


"The best evidence is the tape because that is an actual record of what occurred," the judge said.

The videotape is expected to be played later this afternoon when Lies testifies.

Viste indicated he would be the state's last witness.

Two witnesses testified this morning that they attended an early morning party at a south Fargo apartment on Aug. 19, 2007 that ended in a knife fight and the death of a Moorhead man.

Burim Kryeziv testified that Addai was really angry at the party. Kryeziv described a shoving match between Delonais and Addai and said he witnessed Addai make two swinging motions at Delonais before slicing him in the arm.

"I even heard the slash," Kryeziv said of the action.

Kryeziv then watched the man known as "7-Up" go at Delonais with Addai. Kryeziv said he decided to leave after seeing Tesfaye also pulling out a knife and Tesfaye and Addai surrounding Delonais.

"I'd just seen a knife fight, I didn't think I needed to be there any longer," the 26-year-old Kryeziv testified.


A 17-year-old male who was at the party also testified about seeing Addai with a knife. The boy, identified as "James" in court, said he saw Addai dash across 32nd Avenue South toward where Delonais would later lay dying. The boy testified he later found a kitchen knife in that area and said earlier in the night he had seen Addai digging through his sister's kitchen drawers where silverware was kept.

For more details read Thursday's Forum and visit www.areavoices.com/courtroom for blogs from the courthouse.

Copyright & copy; 2008 The Forum. All rights reserved.

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