A Hennepin County jury acquitted a 20-year-old Minneapolis man of murder and attempted murder in connection to a deadly Richfield school shooting in February that killed a 15-year-old boy and injured two other students.
After a weeklong trial, jurors found Alfredo Rosario Solis not guilty on five of the six felony counts he faced for the shooting that killed Jahmari Kei'Fee Rice outside South Education Center Academy on the afternoon of Feb. 1. An accomplice, Fernando Valdez-Alvarez, will be on trial for murder in February.
After a weeklong trial, jurors found Solis guilty of the sixth and final count, second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.
When the clerk for Judge Paul Scoggin read out the first verdict, Jahmari Rice's father, Cortez Rice, leaned his head back and looked up at the ceiling while the clerk repeated the verdict four more times. Rice then turned his attention to the jury, shook his head and at one point stomped his foot.
As sheriff's deputies went to escort Solis out of the courtroom, he stood up and turned around to stare down Rice. The brief confrontation ended, and the Rice family spilled into the hallway and embraced Rice as his sobs echoed in the government center atrium.
Rice spoke about how shocked and angry he felt but said that the system was designed to fail. He noted that only one Black man served on the jury, as well as several teachers.
"This is absurd. This is crazy. So, you're telling us that … you bring a gun to school, and your friend shoots the gun and murders somebody and then you shoot this murder weapon, and you don't get held accountable for this? This is sickening."
Asked if Wednesday's verdicts made him worried about the upcoming trial for Valdez-Alvarez, Rice said all he can do is pray.
"We're gonna continue to pray that possibly we get another jury that's going to do the right thing, because this one clearly didn't do it. They failed us. They failed the students that they work for. … I'm hurt. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. I won't stop fighting."
The day after his son was gunned down, mourners gathered outside the school in the frigid winter with roses, balloons and teddy bears. Hundreds attended Jahmari Rice's funeral to honor the sophomore's life that revolved around football and fashion.
Cortez Rice was granted furlough from the county workhouse to attend his son's service. A prominent Twin Cities activist, he faced charges that were later dismissed for intimidating the Hennepin County District judge who presided over the manslaughter trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter in the killing of Daunte Wright.
Solis will be sentenced Jan. 1. His public defender, Matthew Jaimet, could not immediately be reached for comment.