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Hearing postponed in Ali twin murder case

A 24-year-old former Columbia resident accused of killing his twin brother 4 1/2 years ago will have to wait another 11 days to find out if he will be set free.

Wael Ali was slated to appear in Howard County Circuit Court Thursday morning for a status conference, a hearing in which prosecutors were expected to decide whether to retry his case that ended March 29 in a mistrial.

The hearing has been postponed to April 16, a day that defense attorneys Jason Shapiro and David Zwanetz believe could bring the case to a close.

"I think we've made some real headway into resolving the case," Shapiro said Thursday morning.

Wael remains at the Howard County Detention Center in Jessup, where is being held without bond.

Wael had been charged with one count of first-degree murder in the death of Wasel Ali, who was 19 when his body was discovered Aug. 27, 2007, in a wooded area of Clary's Forest in Columbia.

The jury spent nearly 20 hours deliberating the case, but found itself deadlocked after three days. Wael's defense attorneys had emphasized what they said were reasonable doubts — there was nothing tying Wael to Wasel's death, no forensic evidence or witnesses placing him at the scene of the crime.

Jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on the charge of first-degree murder or any of the lesser counts, which included second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.

Wasel died from asphyxiation, suffering a neck injury and suffocating after what prosecutors said was several minutes of pressure.

Wael was one of the last people to see Wasel alive. Wael had gone to the Columbia mall to pick up Wasel on Aug. 22. Security camera footage, however, showed them leaving the mall from opposite ends.

Wasel was never seen again. His body was discovered five days later.

Detectives found Wael's statements about the case inconsistent and incomplete, and prosecutors described the way he searched for his brother as suspicious. Wael twice led searches in the area where his brother's body was found, a place where the boys had played as children. Wael told friends he had "a bad feeling" about the area.

Wael was arrested in September 2011.

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