MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana man prosecutors say shot and killed a German exchange student in his garage is scheduled to go to trial this week in a case that centers on whether he justifiably feared another home invasion after recently being burglarized.
Markus Kaarma of Missoula has pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide in the April 27 death of Diren Dede, 17, of Hamburg. Jury selection is set to begin Monday followed by arguments as soon as Tuesday, the Missoulian reported.
Defense attorneys argue that Kaarma was protecting his home and family when he fired the shots into his garage. However, prosecutors say Kaarma deliberately tried to lure the victim into his dark garage by leaving a purse out and keeping the garage doors partially open.
Prosecutors say Kaarma was frustrated by recent burglaries at his house and set up motion sensors and video cameras to catch the thieves.
The night of the shooting, prosecutors claim, Kaarma was watching a video monitor and saw a dark figure in his garage. They say he grabbed his shotgun, exited the front door, turned to face the partially open garage door and fired four shots into the darkness.
A friend told police he was with Dede the night it happened. The Ecuadorian exchange student, Robby Pazmino, said they were walking down the street, and he watched as Dede entered the garage.
Pazmino told police he heard an unfamiliar voice say, “I see you there.” He ran off after hearing the first shot, according to court documents.
Court records show Kaarma pleaded guilty in 2003 to an assault charge in Seattle and received a deferred sentence. Defense attorneys sought to have the trial moved after the Missoulian published a story about the charge.
District Judge Ed McLean denied the request but forbade attorneys on both sides from speaking to reporters about the case.
German prosecutors said in May that they planned to open their own investigation. German law allows them to prosecute offenses committed against German citizens on foreign soil, they said.
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