Everyone remember the German exchange student that got shot and killed in Montana at the end of last month? These people had had their garage broken into a few times before, so they set up motion sensors to catch the next person to go in there. The alarms went off a little after midnight, and Markus Kaarma grabbed his shotgun and blew Diren Dede away. He's being charged with murder and things don't look too good for him, though he's claiming protection under the state's so-called castle doctrine.
The law allows a person to use lethal force as long as they "reasonably believe" that opening fire will prevent someone from illegally entering an occupied structure. Before 2009, the person you blasted had to be acting in a "violent, riotous, or tumultuous manner," but some good old NRA-sponsored legislation struck that language out. In that sense, he seems to have the law on his side, but his mouth may already have torched his defense.
Kaarma allegedly told a hairdresser several days before the shooting that police were "baiting him into killing these kids," the affidavit said.
He told the hairdresser that he was tired because he had been up the last three nights, "waiting with his shotgun for some kids to come back into his garage again."
The hairdresser later told police Kaarma was not just venting, he was angry.
"And I'm not (expletive) kidding, you'll see this on the (expletive) news," Kaarma said when the appointment was over. "I'm going to (expletive) kill 'em."
The conversation was overheard by another hairdresser who told police the man had been going to the salon for years and always seemed "angry at the world." The hairdresser added she was afraid of Kaarma.
Neighbors and witnesses have since reported Kaarma was the instigator of several alleged road rage incidents in the neighborhood prior to the shooting.
On April 26, Kaarma was allegedly driving well-below the posted 25 mph speed limit on Prospect Lane in his gray pickup truck. The witness attempted to pass the truck, but Kaarma allegedly pulled his truck across the road – blocking the roadway.
The witness backed up and attempted to go around again, but the defendant allegedly jumped out of his truck and started yelling "gibberish" at the witness.
"The witness said that the defendant appeared disheveled, sloppy and unshaven," the affidavit stated. "It appeared that the defendant looked ready to fight."
Two other road rage incidences allegedly involving Kaarma occurred the same day, the affidavit stated, including one where a neighbor reported Kaarma appeared to be high or drunk.
Kaarma's attorney, however, said his client's apparent road rage was a manifestation of his mental state.
"It just goes to show what he was driven to after he was being terrorized in his own house," Ryan said.
Some other notable developments in the case: There were apparently two prior break-ins, neither committed by Dede. Kaarma and girlfriend liked smoking weed in the garage (so do I), and these other neighborhood kids stole his pipes and his dope the first time, then came back and swiped a couple wallets and an iPhone. Apparently, "garage hopping" is a local institution for high schoolers looking to grab some beers and get faded, which is what Dede was after when he and another exchange student spotted Kaarma's invitingly opened garage door.
Pazmino, who was twice interviewed by Missoula police, assumed that Dede was looking for an alcoholic beverage when he entered the garage, the affidavit said.
He told officers the boys learned about "garage hopping" or "garage shopping" from Missoula teens and had participated with friends three or four times in the past. But he denied taking any items from Kaarma's garage, the affidavit stated.
Normally, he said, he and Dede opted to stay in the car while other local teenagers searched for alcohol inside people's garages.
The other interesting thing is that a spotlight's been cast on Kaarma's wife, Jeanette Pflager, and she might end up facing charges as well. Rather than just a simple bystander, she's coming across as a major instigator of events.
In the days prior to Dede's death, the couple installed two motion sensors and a monitor that sent a live video stream to their cell phones.
In an interview with police, Kaarma seemed to suggest that the entrapment was his wife's idea.
Pflager was reportedly upset after the last two burglaries and "she had wanted to catch someone if they did it again," Kaarma said.
He said his wife had purchased the surveillance equipment and had become "hyper-vigilant" much to his chagrin. Her persistence irritated him, the affidavit stated.
Kaarma allegedly told police that he thought the garage was closed while the couple enjoyed their Jacuzzi on the night of April 26. He allegedly said Pflager left the overhead door partially open to "entice the suspects" back into the garage. It wasn't his idea, he told police.
"I want to close the garage," he said. "I want to lock everything up."
Pflager also allegedly left her purse in the garage "so they would take it."
"Pflager believed that if someone stole the purse she would be able to give law enforcement a detailed list of what was stolen and her name would be on the stolen items," the affidavit stated.
Also, Kaarma and Pflager have very similar looking heads and faces. Eerie.