German student's death no accident - examiner

2014-12-09 16:01
Accused Marcus Kaarma. (AP)

Accused Marcus Kaarma. (AP)

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Missoula - A German high school student could have survived an initial shot to the arm by a US man but was killed by a subsequent gunshot wound to the head, a state medical examiner testified on Monday.

The testimony came as prosecutors seek to portray defendant Markus Kaarma as unstable and intent on harming anyone who tried to burgle his garage before he shot and killed Diren Dede, aged 17, in the early hours of 27 April.

Previous witnesses testified that Kaarma was on edge from previous burglaries, and prosecutors have said Kaarma fired a pump action shotgun four times into the garage - pausing between the third and fourth shots.

Kaarma insists he feared for his life and didn't know if the intruder was armed. Defense attorneys argue the western state of Montana's "stand your ground" law allowed Kaarma to use deadly force to defend his home.

State medical examiner Dr Gary Dale testified on Monday that Dede was first shot in the left arm. A subsequent gunshot wound to the head killed him, Dale said.

"Properly treated he would have survived that wound," Dale said of the arm injury. "Essentially he was brain dead upon sustaining these brain wounds."

Graphic photos

Prosecutors showed jurors graphic photos of Dede's wounds. Kaarma only glanced at the images and mostly looked down at his lap as Dale spoke.

Prosecutors are trying to prove that Kaarma, aged 30, laid a trap for teens he thought were burgling his home. A motion sensor he had set up went off, and Kaarma shot Dede in the garage with a shotgun.

Days before the shooting, Kaarma had told a woman that his house had been burgled twice and he had been waiting up nights to shoot an intruder, according to court records. Two teenagers have testified that they went "garage hopping," or burgling garages, in search of alcohol and other things after dark and hit Kaarma's house just weeks before the death of Dede.

Dede's mother, Gulcin Dede, left the courtroom visibly upset when the jury was shown police video of the scene with drops of blood in the driveway and a piece of Dede's clothing on the ground. She could be heard sobbing and did not return to court until after the images of Dede's body were shown in the afternoon.

Jurors saw video of multiple shotgun pellet holes in the home, including one that hit a bottle of cooking oil in the kitchen pantry. Kaarma's baby was inside the home at the time.

Defense attorneys asserted on Monday that local police had little experience with self-defence homicide investigations when they were called to the scene in April.

Detective Mitchell Lang appeared uncomfortable with defense attorney Lisa Kauffmann's questions about whether the position of Dede's body and other details were documented, and whether he dusted for fingerprints. He said he hadn't done those things.

Lang testified about the video and still photos he took that showed a blood-stained vehicle in the garage, the shotgun with a live round still inside, the four shotgun shells fired that morning and damage caused by them throughout the first floor of the home.

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