Home / National News / Montana Man Claims Self-Defense After Shooting Exchange Student


(HELENA, Mont.) — A Montana man who had been repeatedly burglarized has pleaded not guilty to deliberately killing a 17-year-old German exchange student who entered his garage.

Twenty-nine-year-old Markus Kaarma was arraigned Wednesday in the April 27 death of Diren Dede. Kaarma faces a charge of deliberate homicide.

He’s accused of killing Dede in his garage after the exchange student walked in – allegedly looking for alcohol – setting off motion sensors and Kaarma’s camera. Kaarma told police he’d been robbed before, and that when he fired he was fearful and trying to protect himself, his girlfriend, and baby.

Missoula County Deputy Attorney Andrew Paul says this wasn’t an act of self-defense, but of murder by an angry man who set a trap.

“Many of his neighbors have contacted our office and have expressed serious concerns about neighborhood safety,” Paul said. “They are scared of him.”

In court documents, Kaarma is described as acting aggressively toward other drivers on the road and telling stylists at a hair salon that he’d been waiting up at night for intruders, saying, “I’m seriously going to kill some f—ing kids.”

Prosecutors argued his bail should be raised to $500,000, but District Judge Ed McLean didn’t agree, leaving Kaarma free on his current, lesser bail. His attorney denies he was out to get anyone, saying he is now virtually a prisoner in his own home, afraid to go outside.

“There’s been some death threats,” Kaarma’s attorney, Paul Ryan, said. “Certainly he’s uneasy being in his own house.”

Even if Kaarma is cleared in the case, his troubles may not be over. German authorities have now submitted a letter saying they are watching closely and could pursue a case of their own.

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