Prosecutors argue against new trial for Kaarma in garage shootin - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

Prosecutors argue against new trial for Kaarma in garage shooting case

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MISSOULA -- Missoula County prosecutors admit there was extensive media coverage of the murder trial of Markus Kaarma; but they're arguing it wasn't enough to warrant a new trial for the man accused of fatally shooting a teenage burglar.

Kaarma was convicted of deliberate homicide in the shooting of foreign exchange student Diren Dede when he caught him breaking into his garage last spring. Kaarma is scheduled to be sentenced February 12.

Defense attorneys are arguing that Kaarma should receive a new trial, or at least have Judge Ed McLean modify the jury's guilty verdict to a lesser charge of Mitigated Deliberate Homicide. They posit that hundreds of articles of inflammatory coverage by the press prevented Kaarma from having his case heard by an impartial jury.

However in a new brief, prosecutors point out it wasn't that hard to find an impartial jury, noting a panel was seated on the second morning of jury selection in early December. They say that "renders as moot" the defense's "entire argument regarding media coverage."

Prosecutors also contend the court did adequately instruct the jury on considering justifiable use of force, saying Karma's defense team was able to argue their point that he had used force to defend an occupied structure during closing arguments. 

The state says the judge's instructions to the jury were accurate and appropriate.

The state also says it would be a miscarriage of justice to reduce Kaarma's conviction, saying it would ignore the overwhelming evidence that his actions were "premeditated, prompted by anger and desire for vengeance."

(January 28, 2015) Attorneys for Markus Kaarma, convicted for the shooting death of a German exchange student, have requested that the sentencing date in the case be delayed until a request for a new trial has been decided on.

Kaarma is currently set to be sentenced on February 12 for the death of Diren Dede, who was killed in Kaarma's garage last April.

Kaarma's defense attorneys had previously asked Judge Ed McLean to consider a new trial - or change Kaarma's verdict of deliberate homicide to mitigated deliberate homicide, a lesser charge - saying that Kaarma's Sixth Amendment rights were violated, because he did not have a fair and impartial jury.

Missoula County Deputy Attorney Andrew Paul has countered Tuesday's motion by asking that the sentencing date change request be denied, stating that Dede's father, and his attorney, have already purchased plane tickets to return to Missoula for Kaarma's sentencing.

Judge McLean has not yet ruled on either motion.

(December 17,2014) The jury has returned a verdict of guilty of deliberate homicide in the trial of Markus Kaarma, who shot and killed 17-year-old German exchange student Diren Dede on April 27.

Dede was in Kaarma's garage when he was shot. Prosecutors had argued that Dede was "pleading for his life," but defense attorneys maintained that Kaarma was scared by earlier break-ins when he peppered the inside of his garage with several shotgun blasts.

The jury began deliberating late Monday, and returned its verdict on Wednesday afternoon.

During closing arguments, prosecutors told the jury that Dede may have made a mistake breaking into Karma's garage, but didn't deserve to be "executed" for a poor decision.

But defense attorneys told the jury their client isn't the "monster" that prosecutors have made him out to be during the trial.

Following Monday's unexpectedly quick end to testimony in the case, it was up to the attorneys for both sides to make their final efforts to convince the jury of Karma's guilt or innocence.

The state asked the jury to not be "distracted" by issues like the "Castle Doctrine" and gun laws, or whether Dede's error was the most important point to consider.

"Even if there was a sub-par investigation, that does not give the defendant free range to execute an unarmed child," Missoula County Deputy Attorney Karla Painter said. "Was he considering taking something that didn't belong to him? Probably. Did he deserve to die for his transgressions? No."

"Instead," Painter continued, "Diren was violently and senselessly executed. Please tell the defendant that while we live in a state with a strong gun culture, it is not one of lawlessness, or vigilante justice. Please tell the defendant and Mr. and Mrs. Dede that Diren's life meant more than a couple of cans of beer."

In his closing arguments, defense attorney Paul Ryan portrayed the shooting as a classic case of home defense.

"He wasn't lured into there. He made the move. That was one of the dangers he chose and one of the risks when he decided to burglarize this family," Ryan said. "Now he's (Kaarma) in protection mode. This a father of a 10-month old. There's no decision-making process that can go on where we have to be right or wrong. It's 'we've got to protect'."

"I think it's just so interesting what's happening in the big picture of this," Ryan continued, "And how much criticism a homeowner is getting in his decision on how he chose to defend his property."

Missoula County Deputy Attorney Andrew Paul argued that Kaarma acted too hastily in shooting Dede to reasonably size him up as a threat.

"In two seconds he goes from standing at the front door, to coming around that corner and 'boom-boom-boom-boom!' Firing," Paul said. "How does he have time to perceive a threat?"

The state argued there was "nothing in the garage worth stealing" saying this was just a case of Kaarma "defending his pride."

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