weather icon Overcast

Mont. man found guilty in killing of German exchange student

MISSOULA, Mont. — A jury found a Montana homeowner guilty of deliberate homicide on Wednesday in the shooting death of a German high school exchange student who entered his garage in a case that tested the state’s version of a “castle doctrine” self-defense law.

Markus Kaarma, who prosecutors painted as an armed aggressor who lured a would-be burglar to his death, was charged in connection with the April death of Diren Dede, 17, of Hamburg, who authorities say was killed while “garage hopping” at night in Missoula in a possible search for alcohol.

Prosecutors argued during the trial that Kaarma had installed motion detectors and a baby monitor days before the shooting and left a purse filled with cash and other items in the garage on the day Dede was killed in a shooting that sparked outrage in Germany.

Prosecutors contended that when Kaarma left his house to corner Dede in the garage after being alerted to his presence by the monitoring devices, he lost legal protection under Montana law.

Defense lawyers had said 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-defense law, which allows deadly force against a home invasion if a person reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent an assault.

Defense attorney Paul Ryan said Montana law did not require Kaarma, a former U.S. Forest Service firefighter, to hide or retreat from an intruder in his attached garage, which Ryan said was considered an “occupied structure.”

Kaarma could face a sentence of up to 100 years in prison.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Democrats take on health care at debate, argue how to beat Trump

Democratic presidential candidates clashed Wednesday in a debate over the future of health care in America, racial inequality and their ability to build a winning coalition to take on President Donald Trump next year.

Storms create havoc on Utah highways

The Utah Highway Patrol warned of hazardous driving conditions Wednesday, saying wet pavement contributed to four rollovers of tractor-trailer rigs on major highways.

Facts missing from American democracy, Americans say

A meager 9% of Americans believe that campaign messages are usually based on facts, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Opinion Research and USAFacts. Only 14% think policy decisions are often or always fact-based, or that Americans’ voting decisions are rooted in facts.

Ruling threatens human smuggling cases against Marines

SAN DIEGO — Marine Corps prosecutors were scrambling Tuesday to save numerous cases tied to a human smuggling investigation after a military judge ruled it was illegal for the military to arrest the Marines during a morning battalion formation and accuse them in front of their peers.

2 Epstein guards charged with falsifying jail records

Two correctional officers responsible for guarding Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself were charged Tuesday with falsifying prison records.

UN human rights office urges Hong Kong de-escalation

The U.N. human rights office is calling on authorities in Hong Kong to do all they can to de-escalate a standoff between security forces and anti-government protesters holed up in a university.

New Arctic autumn means studying waves, not ice

The U.S. research vessel Sikuliaq can break through ice as thick as 2.5 feet. In the Chukchi Sea northwest of Alaska this month, which should be brimming with floes, its limits likely won’t be tested.