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Dec 17, 2014 1:28 AM

Deliberations resume in exchange student killing

The Associated Press

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) Jurors are set to resume deliberations Wednesday in the murder case against a Montana man who shot to death a German high school exchange student who was trespassing in his garage.

Markus Kaarma, 30, is charged with deliberate homicide in the April 27 death of Diren Dede, 17. If convicted, he could face a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Prosecutor Karla Painter said during closing arguments Tuesday that the Missoula man intended to harm or kill the teenager. He allegedly told neighbors and others days before the shooting that he was going to harm anyone who tried to burglarize his garage.

Kaarma was angry because his garage had been burglarized before, Painter said. She added that he wanted revenge and created a setup by leaving his garage door partially open that night, rigging motion detectors and going out the front door and around to the garage with a shotgun after the sensors lit up.

"Instead of staying in that house, in a protected area, this is their response: Showtime," Painter said of Kaarma and his girlfriend, Janelle Pflagler. "From the moment he left that structure, he became predator, Diren became prey."

Kaarma fired four blasts from a shotgun at Dede, pausing between the third and fourth shots, she said.

But defense attorneys argued he was protecting his family and property as allowed under Montana's "stand your ground" law. The case is seen as a test of such laws, sometimes referred to as "castle doctrine" laws, which generally allow people to use force if there is reason to believe they are in imminent danger.

Kaarma's attorneys depicted him as an anxious person who was under stress after his garage was burglarized in a separate incident April 17. They say because of that and another incident in which he suspects his home was burglarized, Kaarma felt targeted.

Kaarma didn't know if the garage intruder was armed the night of the shooting, defense attorney Paul Ryan said.

"He didn't go out there with intent to kill. He went out there to catch him," Ryan said. "This was not luring. This place had become a target."

Dede, from the German city of Hamburg, was not carrying a weapon when he was killed by a gunshot wound to the head.

Before closing arguments, District Judge Ed McLean told jurors that under the state's "stand your ground" law, a person is justified in the use of force or a threat if he reasonably believes it is necessary to defend himself.

A conviction requires determining beyond a reasonable doubt whether Kaarma acted purposely or knowingly in causing the teenager's death.

Jurors deliberated for about five hours Tuesday before adjourning for the day.


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