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Dec 16, 2014 2:48 PM

Jury gets exchange student shooting case

The Associated Press

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) A Missoula man intended to harm, if not kill, when he confronted and shot to death a German high school exchange student who was trespassing in his garage, a prosecutor said during closing arguments Tuesday before the case went to the jury.

Markus Kaarma told neighbors and others that he was going to harm anyone who tried to burglarize his garage days before he confronted and shot Diren Dede, 17, in the early hours of April 27, prosecutor Karla Painter said.

Kaarma was burglarized previously and was angry about it, Painter said. He wanted revenge, she said, and he 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.

"If someone is in your house, where do you go to defend your family? You go between your family and the threat. The defendant didn't do that. He had one thing on his mind it was revenge," Painter said.

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

"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, 30, is charged with deliberate homicide. If convicted, he could face a minimum 10 years in prison.

The defense says Montana law allowed Kaarma to use force because he feared for his family's safety. Kaarma's attorneys presented their closing arguments before the case went to the jury.

They have depicted him as an anxious person who was under stress after his home 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.

They argue Kaarma didn't know if the intruder was armed. Montana's "stand your ground" law allows people to use force if there is reason to believe they are in imminent danger.

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

Defense lawyers wrapped up their side of the case in less than two days, calling police and two expert witnesses to testify. One expert tried to discredit the police investigation, while the other testified Monday that Kaarma was in a "fight or flight" situation that can trigger extreme responses.

Before closing arguments, District Court Judge Ed McLean told jurors that under Montana'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 Dede's death.


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