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Addai sentenced to life with the possibility of parole for August 2007 murder

FARGO - A judge today sentenced 24-year-old Elijah Addai to life in prison with the possibility of parole for his December murder conviction in the August 2007 stabbing death of another man.

After 24 hours of deliberations, a Cass County jury convicted Addai, of Fargo, of killing David Delonais, 24.

Jurors were initially leaning toward a not guilty verdict at the start of deliberations and at one point told a judge they were deadlocked.

"When we took our first vote, I guess I knew it was going to be a battle," jury foreman Steven Kelsh told The Forum following the guilty verdict. "At first ... most people, yes, they didn't think that the state had provided enough evidence."

One of the many arguments was whether Addai fatally stabbed David Delonais, 24, in front of two Forum newspaper carriers, as prosecutors alleged.

Forum newspaper carrier Mary Albertson testified that she heard Addai shout, "I'm going to cut you, I'm going to kill you!" as he approached Delonais. Prosecutor Leah Viste told jurors to remember that statement as they began deliberations.

Both women also testified that while they saw Addai attack Delonais, of Moorhead, they did not see Addai with a knife. Defense attorney Ross Brandborg reiterated that to jurors, telling them Addai's friend, Semereab "7-Up" Tesfaye, was responsible for Delonais' death.

Delonais suffered three stab wounds and died after fleeing from a fight outside a Fargo apartment building. Witnesses testified that Tesfaye, Addai and Delonais were fighting and that Delonais stabbed Tesfaye in the head.

Addai didn't show much emotion throughout the four days of testimony, but appeared upset and surprised when he looked over at the jury as the verdict was read.

Addai faces up to life without parole for the Aug. 19, 2007 incident in south Fargo.