A Montana homeowner who killed a German exchange student trespassing on his property last year has been sentenced to 70 years in prison, with no possibility of parole for 20 years.
Markus Kaarma killed unarmed 17-year old Diren Dede after motion sensors in Kaarma’s garage detected his presence. As we previously reported, Dede “may have been engaged in “garage hopping” – a local tradition in which teens duck into open garages in search of beer or pot.” Witnesses say Kaarma fired at Dede four times. Kaarma was found guilty of deliberate homicide in December.
The AP reports that prosecutors argued Kaarma was not shooting out of self-defense, but was actually trying to find a burglar:
“Prosecutors argued Kaarma was intent on luring an intruder into his garage after it had had been burglarized at least once in the weeks before the shooting. Three witnesses testified they had heard Kaarma say he’d been waiting up nights to shoot an intruder.
On the night of the shooting, authorities said, Kaarma left his garage door partially open with a purse inside. He fired four shotgun blasts, pausing between the third and fourth shots, witnesses said.”
The Missoulian reports that District Judge Ed McLean had harsh words for Kaarma when he handed down the sentence:
“You pose too great a risk to society to be anywhere else but the Montana State Prison. Good luck to you, son,” the judge said.
“(Your anxiety) doesn’t excuse the anguish you have caused. Anxiety isn’t an excuse,” McLean said. “You didn’t protect your residence, you went hunting. And here you have a 12-gauge shotgun that’s loaded. Not to protect your family but to go after somebody.”
“You are angry at the world and it’s evident in your behavior,” he added.
NPR’s Martin Kaste previously reported that Kaarma’s defense team invoked what’s called the ‘castle doctrine,” or the idea “that a man’s home is his castle and can be defended as such.” The idea is similar to that behind many controversial “stand your ground laws,” which are on the books in more than 30 states. They remove the requirement to retreat from an altercation if you feel at risk of harm.
The AP says Kaarma’s attorneys will appeal the conviction to Montana’s Supreme Court.