- Associated Press - Friday, July 22, 2016

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The state has responded to a Missoula man’s appeal of his deliberate homicide conviction in the April 2014 shooting death of a German exchange student who was trespassing in his garage.

Markus Kaarma filed his appeal in December, arguing that jurors were not properly instructed about justifiable use of force and that pre-trial news coverage biased the jury. He also argued the judge was wrong in failing to dismiss a juror who was married to a retired Missoula police officer, shouldn’t have let Kaarma’s girlfriend testify that he had previously assaulted her and wrong to allow a police officer to explain blood spatter evidence.

The state filed its response Tuesday, arguing that jurors received the proper instructions and that a large jury pool was called and biased jurors were eliminated through a questionnaire. The state also argued that Janelle Pflager’s testimony about Kaarma taking on the role of protector of her and their son opened the door to questions about the 2012 assault.

Prosecutors also noted that Kaarma had acknowledged that the detective who testified about the blood evidence did so as a non-expert.

Kaarma was sentenced to 70 years in prison for the shooting death of 17-year-old Diren Dede, who had apparently gone into Kaarma’s garage to steal beer. Kaarma is eligible for parole after serving 20 years.

Kaarma had argued the shooting was in self-defense because he feared that whoever was in his garage could harm him or his family. Prosecutors said Kaarma and Pflager were trying to lure a burglar into the garage by leaving the garage door open despite having been burglarized twice before.


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