Detective: Man who shot student adjusted aim
Dec. 12, 2014
MISSOULA, Montana (AP) — The lead detective who investigated the shooting of a German exchange student by a Montana man testified Thursday that it appeared the man adjusted his aim before firing the shot that killed the 17-year-old.
Missoula police detective Guy Baker said in Markus Kaarma's murder trial that the first three shots fired by Kaarma were low, and they seemed to follow Diren Dede as Dede moved across Kaarma's garage.
Baker said Kaarma's fourth shot, striking Dede in the head, was aimed much higher.
Based on where Baker found blood in the garage, he said it appears Dede was shot in the arm and then moved behind a car where he crouched down. An absence of blood in an area by the car showed that Dede then moved again, Baker testified.
"It indicates to me that at some point Diren stood up facing Kaarma, and he was then shot in the head," he said.
Defense attorney Lisa Kauffmann strenuously objected to Baker's testimony and wanted it stricken from the court record, claiming Baker doesn't have the training to be a blood spatter expert and that it isn't even known whether blood in the garage was Dede's.
Missoula Court Judge Ed McLean overruled but said the defense could question Baker on those issues Friday.
Prosecutors at Kaarma's murder trial argue that after a previous burglary, he was intent on harming an intruder when he shot Dede on April 27.
Kaarma, 30, said in a telephone call from jail after the incident he didn't know whether Dede was armed and had a right to use deadly force to defend his home under Montana law. A recording of the call was played for jurors.
"Let's not forget this kid who was killed was a felon, committing a crime in our house," Kaarma told his girlfriend, Janelle Pflager. "Everyone should rejoice that our neighborhood is safer. (Expletive) idiots."
Neighbors testified earlier this week that Pflager told them the couple planned to bait burglars into entering their garage so they could catch them. Pflager denied attempting to bait anyone, although she did leave a purse in the garage and left the garage door partially open that night. The couple was alerted to an intruder that night by motion sensors.
In an interview with police after the shooting, Kaarma said after firing his shotgun he was "pretty sure" he hadn't hurt anybody. He said he was mortified to see he had shot someone.
"I was like a deer in the headlights. I started shaking," he said.
Former exchange student Robby Pazmino, 19, of Quito, Ecuador, testified Tuesday that he and Dede had engaged in "garage-hopping," or sneaking into people's garages, up to five times before. He said he didn't think it was right, but that many students at their high school and others were doing it.
Dede's host father, Randy Smith, also testified Thursday and said Dede was a great, fun kid who never gave him or his wife any trouble.