SHAFAQNA – A Montana homeowner who set a trap for an opportunist burglar has been found guilty of deliberate homicide for shooting a German high school exchange student. Markus Kaarma left his garage door open, set up motion sensors and baby monitors and lay in wait with a gun after his property had been broken into a week before.
His victim Diren Dede, 17, of Hamburg, is believed to have entered the open garage in search of alcohol. Ballistic evidence showed that Kaarma shot and injured the teenager before going in for a “kill shot”.
The trial attracted a high degree of attention as a test case for the state’s version of a “castle doctrine” self-defence law. The killing sparked outrage in Germany.
After hearing the verdict in the courtroom with his wife, the teenager’s father Celal Dede said: “We are very happy – long live justice.”
During the trail the court was told that Kaarma and his girlfriend were heard saying by neighbours that he intended to shoot an intruder because police were not doing anything about burglaries in the area.
Prosecutors argued that he had installed motion detectors and a baby monitor days before the shooting and left a purse filled with cash and other items.
They further contended that when he left his house to corner the teenager in the garage, he lost legal protection for his actions under Montana law.
They also cast doubt throughout the trial as to whether Kaarma believed any danger existed; the boy did not have a weapon.
Defence lawyers countered that Kaarma acted under a form of the “castle doctrine” of home security to protect his family and that his actions were in line with Montana’s self-defence law.
Ed McLean, the judge, ordered Kaarma to be remanded into custody. The crime carries a minimum ten-year sentence.