Man once accused of killing twin in Columbia fatally shot in Georgia

A 25-year-old man — freed last year after being tried in the 2007 death of his twin brother in Columbia — died in an accidental shooting Friday in Georgia, according to police.

Jason Shapiro, a former attorney for Wael Ali, said Tuesday that Ali had relocated to Marietta, Ga., "excited to have his life back" after dealing with the death of Wasel Ali, his twin and closest friend.

He was back in school and "very optimistic about his future," Shapiro said, but Wael Ali's death sent the twins' family into mourning once more.

"This has been a tragedy for the mom and dad, if you can imagine what they had to go through," he said.

Family members held a funeral Tuesday for Wael in the Catonsville area, Shapiro said. They could not be reached for comment.

Ali's death also revives one of Howard County's most trying cold cases. Ali's trial resulted in a hung jury and a mistrial, which led to his release.

"As of today, the case is still open, but in light of recent events it will now be reviewed," Sherry Llewellyn, a Howard County police spokeswoman, said in an email Tuesday. "Wael Ali was still the primary suspect."

The body of 19-year-old Wasel Ali, was found on Aug. 27, 2007, in a wooded area of Columbia. The 2006 Wilde Lake High School graduate had suffered a neck injury and died of asphyxiation from pressure applied to his neck.

A subsequent investigation led police to question Wael Ali's involvement. The two had been in a fight shortly before Wasel went missing, authorities said. Investigators questioned the sincerity of some of Wael's statements afterward. By the time he was charged four years later, his family had relocated to Georgia. He returned there after his trial.

Officer David Baldwin, a spokesman for the Marietta police, said Ali was in the kitchen of the Laziza Restaurant in Marietta about 10:30 p.m. Friday. He was showing a gun he owned to the restaurant's owner, Raouf Sanad, a "very close family friend."

Sanad was allegedly "manipulating it and was not using good protocol" when the gun went off, and Ali was shot in the front of the neck, Baldwin said.

Two officers on routine foot patrol outside the restaurant responded, and "there were a number of witnesses there who corroborated that it was just a tragic accident," Baldwin said.

Sanad has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless conduct and pointing a weapon at another person, Baldwin said.

Attempts to reach Sanad and his family were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Shapiro said the Ali family "lost both of their boys under very tragic circumstances," and criticized the Howard County police response to his death.

"To come out and say, 'The guy that just was tragically killed, the guy whose body they're lowering into the ground as we speak, is our No. 1 suspect, and so now we can close our case because he's dead,' is just poor timing on the police's part," Shapiro said.

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