The hearing of a teenager accused of murdering a husband, father, and business owner in November 2021 began last Friday. A judge is determining whether the suspect, who is 16, will be tried as an adult.
Authorities say 60-year-old Ali Elbanna was robbed, shot, and killed in the Park Lane Costco parking lot as he loaded groceries into his SUV on November 16, 2021.
Investigators say the suspect had been riding in a stolen pick-up truck with three other people when they allegedly attacked Elbanna. The companions to the person who allegedly robbed and then shot Elbanna were James Levels, 17, Janiya Lashay Miller, 17, and Jacoby Bryce Tatum, 19.
A homicide detective testified in court that the suspect got out of the truck, pointed a gun at Elbanna, and told him to surrender everything. Police say Elbanna shouted “No!” before being fatally shot.
Elbanna’s family is now calling for the suspect to be tried as an adult. A psychologist has determined the 16-year-old is mentally fit to undergo criminal proceedings. According to FOX 4, the suspect’s probation officer, who conducted a social evaluation of the juvenile, said he has anger issues as well as a history of drug abuse.
The officer also said in court that the suspect once threatened to shoot up a school and added that the juvenile was on probation for burglary at the time of Elbanna’s killing. He recommends that the 16-year-old be tried as an adult.
Though still a juvenile, the suspect has an extensive criminal history, which began at age 12. Dallas police detectives allege that the suspect was involved in the armed robberies of two women in front of South Oak Cliff High School.
Surveillance videos reportedly also caught him and his companions unsuccessfully trying to pull a woman out of her car at gunpoint at NorthPark Mall on November 16, just minutes before Elbanna was attacked. Using the “Find My Phone” app on one of the victim’s stolen cell phones, officers were able to track the whereabouts of the juvenile and his accomplices after their alleged attack on Elbanna and take them into custody.
Police said Elbanna’s death happened 10 minutes after the unsuccessful robbery attempt at NorthPark Mall, and they pointed out that the Costco was less than a mile away.
Elbanna’s family and friends held a rally before the certification hearing outside Dallas’ juvenile justice center on July 8.
“We want to create an idea that community stands together, that no person has to face such a situation alone,” Elbanna’s daughter Stephanie said, “that this just isn’t our father at risk, this is every person in DFW who’s at risk.”
Elbanna’s brother Khalil described him as “the nicest man” who would “give you the shirt off his back.” Khalil promised to raise justice for his deceased brother.
“We feel the need to build pressure in this case to make sure that we get this person who is committing multiple crimes behind bars for as long as possible, so no one has [to suffer] what we’ve suffered,” said Iman Elbanna, another of the victim’s daughters.
The next sitting on the case is scheduled for Friday. The defense will present its case, after which Judge Cheryl Lee Shannon will issue a ruling on whether the suspect qualifies for adult certification at trial.