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'Justice for Ali Elbanna': North Texas family continues call for juvenile murder suspect to be tried as adult

Police detailed the suspect's criminal past, saying he's spent his teens serving sentences on charges relating to armed robbery, drug dealing and forming a gang

DALLAS — Outside a typically quiet juvenile justice center, a North Texas family made noise on Friday. 

Ali Elbanna was killed during an attempted robbery in a Costco parking lot on Nov. 16. His family said the 16-year-old suspect accused of pulling the trigger should face life in prison as an adult. 

The Elbannas held a news conference outside the juvenile justice center before heading inside for a hearing. There, Judge Cheryl Shannon heard evidence to eventually determine whether the teenager should stand trial as an adult. 

"That man should not be able to roam around the streets ever again,” Sayed Elbanna, Ali’s son said before the proceeding.

During the hearing, Dallas police detectives testified that four people, including three adults, went on a crime spree on Nov. 15, 2021. That spree ended with Elbanna’s murder the next day outside of a North Dallas Costco, according to detectives. 

In court, detectives revealed that, the day before Elbanna was killed, the juvenile suspect stole a truck in Highland Park. The juvenile and their fellow suspects then used that truck the next day to rob two students outside South Oak Cliff High School, and also attempted to carjack a woman at NorthPark Center. Ten minutes later, they showed up at the Costco and confronted Elbanna, detectives said.

A homicide detective testified that the suspect "pointed a gun at the victim and said, 'Give me everything'" and that "the victim said 'no' and was shot."

Prosecutors said they were able to track the suspects through one of the South Oak Cliff victim's cell phones that police recovered when they arrested the suspects.

They also said the 16-year-old suspect -- who was wearing an ankle monitor throughout the crime spree that ended with Elbanna's death -- had a history of criminal activity, having been in and out of jail since he was 12 on charges relating to armed robbery, dealing drugs and founding his own gang.

Prosecutors said the suspect had shown a steady escalation in crime over the years.

His probation officer said the suspect wasn't arrested when he stole the truck because his ankle monitor wasn't working at the time.

But prosecutors said Elbanna was killed with a .22 caliber gun that was recovered by police on the same day as his murder, and that a bullet casing matching that weapon was found in the truck used by suspects.  

Police said they eventually caught up with the suspects about an hour after Elbanna was killed. They said they found the suspects in a Subway restaurant, having something to drink.

Elbanna’s wife, Stephanie, did not go inside the courtroom on Friday. She said she wants to remember her husband as the happy and selfless man he was.

"He probably said, ‘Do you need food, do you need money?'" Stephanie Elbanna said of her husband's possible interaction with his killer. "And they still shot him dead. And drove away."

Elbanna's family hopes the evidence presented in court Friday will be enough to convince Judge Shannon to make the juvenile stand trial as an adult.

“To try him as a juvenile would be a much lesser punishment, even possibly getting out after one year," one of Elbanna's daughters told reporters. "We can not let this happen. Judge Shannon cannot let this happen. That is why we are here today to demand justice for my father as we continue to grieve his loss."

The judge did not make an immediate decision because the defense isn't presenting their side until next Friday. After that is when the judge is expected to make a ruling.

Elbanna’s family said they will be at the court that day, too.

“When people mention my dad, I wish all I saw, heard and felt was the memory of laying on his chest as a kid at the end of the night, reading my book and listening to his heartbeat, falling asleep to that sound,” Iman Elbanna, another daughter said. “Instead, I close my eyes and I hear a bullet tear through that chest. I see a heart with a hole in it and suddenly I can’t breathe. The reality is hideous. But to deny and ignore it is to forfeit the justice that must be served. To let tragedy prevail.” 

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