Closing arguments in exchange student murder

2014-12-16 17:00
Murder accused Markus Kaarma. (YouTube)

Murder accused Markus Kaarma. (YouTube)

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Missoula - Closing arguments are set for Tuesday in the trial of a Montana man who shot and killed a German exchange student in his garage.

Markus Kaarma, aged 30, is charged with deliberate homicide after firing four shots into his Missoula garage early on 27 April, killing 17-year-old Diren Dede. He was alerted to Dede's presence in the garage by a motion detector.

Prosecutors say that after a previous burglary, Kaarma was intent on harming an intruder when he shot Dede. They spent six days calling people to testify, including Kaarma's girlfriend Janelle Pflager, neighbours, police and people who had bizarre encounters with Kaarma before the shooting.

In one encounter, Kaarma came out of his house naked and armed with a shotgun when a lawn maintenance man arrived to work at the home.

Kaarma's attorneys have depicted him as an anxious person who was under stress after his home was burglarized in a separate incident 17 April. They say because of that and another incident in which he suspects he was burglarized, Kaarma felt targeted and afraid for his family.

They argue Kaarma didn't know if the intruder was armed. Montana's "stand your ground" law makes it easier for people to avoid prosecution in a shooting if they felt an imminent danger, whether or not the person shot was armed.

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 on Monday that Kaarma was in a "fight or flight" situation that can trigger extreme responses.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations Tuesday afternoon. If convicted, Kaarma could face a minimum 10 years in prison.

Read more on:    germany  |  us

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