Criminal Justice

Homeowner was only 'defending his pride' in slaying of exchange student, prosecutor argues

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Jurors began deliberations Tuesday in the deliberate homicide case against a Montana man who claimed he had a right to shoot a German exchange student who entered his garage in April.

The lead lawyer for defendant Markus Kaarma, 30, of Missoula argued in closing statements Tuesday that the student was violating “the sanctity of someone’s home,” report the Associated Press and the Missoulian in stories here and here.

The defense lawyer, Paul Ryan, said Kaarma had a right to protect his family and his property under the state’s castle doctrine, according to the news accounts. The exchange student, 17-year-old Diren Dede, had “no business being where he’s at,” Ryan said. “He’s up to no good. He’s looking to go stealing something.”

Prosecutor Karla Painter argued that Kaarma was angry because his garage was previously burglarized, and he created a trap to catch the burglars, the stories report. Kaarma left his garage door partially open and set motion detectors to alert him when someone entered, Painter said.

Painter argued that Kaarma lost protections under state law when he grabbed his gun and left the house. “You cannot use deadly force to defend property,” Painter said. “There was nothing in the garage worth stealing. He was defending his pride.”

Dede died after he was shot twice—once in the arm and once in the head. The student was apparently looking for alcohol, the Missoulian says.

Related article: “Homeowner is charged in shooting death of student in his garage; self-defense law switches burden”

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