Dec 18, 2014 2:58 PM

Slain German teen's parents testify about ordeal

The Associated Press

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) The parents of a German exchange student who was shot to death by a Montana man while trespassing in his garage told a judge Thursday their dreams are broken.

Celal and Gulcin Dede testified about the impact of their 17-year-old son's death, saying they've been unable to work or plan for the future.

"Our whole family in Hamburg, Germany and in Turkey are all broken and most have psychological problems right now," Celal Dede said through a Turkish translator.

A judge will consider their comments when sentencing Markus Kaarma, who was convicted of deliberate homicide Wednesday in Diren Dede's killing.

Prosecutors requested Thursday's hearing so the Dedes wouldn't have to return to Missoula for Kaarma's Feb. 12 sentencing.

Kaarma could face between 10 years and 100 years in prison. His lawyers plan to appeal.

The Missoula man shot Diren Dede in the early hours of April 27 after being alerted to an intruder by motion sensors. Witnesses testified Kaarma fired four shotgun blasts at the teen, who was unarmed.

Celal Dede said his son never meant to come to the United States to do anything bad, and he didn't deserve to die that way.

Diren's mother told the court she would never forget the phone call telling her Diren was dead.

"I wanted to kiss him and hug him ... but could only kiss his cold body," Gulcin Dede said through the translator.

She said Diren was a well-behaved child who became a leader, respected and loved by his family and friends.

"How a human can survive and continue her life without part of her heart," she said. "We are trying to do that. I'm happy because Diren was a good boy and people loved him."

Kaarma, handcuffed and wearing an orange jail suit, mostly looked at the floor while the Dedes spoke. Afterward, he gave a rushed statement, telling the court he never intended to hurt anyone that night and that it was a terrible time for his own family.

"I can't even imagine the pain you feel," he said to the Dedes. "If I could go back in time and change it, I would. I'm sorry for the loss of Diren."

Kaarma's "castle doctrine" defense, which allows people to use deadly force to protect their home and family, failed him after prosecutors argued Kaarma hoped to bait an intruder by leaving his garage door partially open and placing a purse inside.

Kaarma told several hairstylists before the shooting that he had been waiting up to shoot some kids who were burglarizing homes. He said they would see it on the news.

More than 30 U.S. states, including Montana, have laws expanding the right of people to use deadly force to protect their homes or themselves, some of them known as "stand your ground" laws.

The self-defense principle known as the castle doctrine is a centuries-old premise that a person has the right to defend their home against attack. The name evokes the old saying, "My home is my castle."

Kaarma's attorneys argued that he feared for his life, didn't know if the intruder was armed and was on edge because his garage was burglarized at least once in the weeks before the shooting. They said Kaarma feared for his family's safety.

The German government followed the case closely. Hamburg prosecutor Carsten Rinio said this week his office was investigating the Dede case, as required under German law.

Montana prosecutor Andrew Paul said Thursday now that the case is over, he expects to have more time to work with the German government.


Associated Press writers David Rising in Berlin and Nicholas Riccardi in Denver contributed to this report.


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