Testimony: Montana man on edge before shooting

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A lawn care worker testified Friday that a Montana man charged in the slaying of a German exchange student pointed a shotgun at him a few days before the teen’s fatal shooting.

Michael McMillan said he came to Markus Kaarma’s Missoula home April 23 to spray for insects. While he was setting up for work, he said an angry Kaarma came to the front door naked, pointed a shotgun at him and asked what he was doing there.

“I was scared, frozen,” McMillan said.

McMillan said Kaarma’s girlfriend, Janelle Pflager, apologized and told him her boyfriend hadn’t gotten much sleep due to recent burglaries.

Four days later, Kaarma shot and killed 17-year-old Diren Dede after being alerted by a motion detector in his garage. Defense attorneys argue the man was protecting himself and his family from an intruder.

Attorney Paul Ryan told jurors that Montana’s “stand your ground” law allows people to protect their homes with deadly force when they believe they are going to be harmed.

Kaarma didn’t know whether the person inside the garage was armed, Ryan said. He said Kaarma felt targeted and increasingly anxious for the safety of Pflager and their infant son after the couple had been burglarized twice in the days leading up to the shooting.

Earlier testimony also indicated Kaarma had been on edge at the time and had exhibited some erratic behavior.

Kaarma went to get a haircut the same day as the encounter with the lawn care worker, and three women from the shop testified Thursday that they heard him say he had been waiting up nights to shoot an intruder.

On Friday, college student Louis Richman said he also overheard Kaarma talk about shooting burglars and he believed he was watching pornography on his phone while they each waited to get their hair cut that day.

He told defense attorneys, however, he didn’t believe Kaarma would actually shoot anyone.

Pflager said in a 911 call played for jurors Friday that Dede was lying face down and “barely breathing” after Kaarma shot him. She said Kaarma did not help her as she tried to aid the mortally wounded high school student, who died a short time later at a Missoula hospital.

Dede’s father, Celal Dede, grimaced while listening to the 911 recording and then whispered to attorneys that accompanied him and his wife.

Pflager’s testimony came during the second day of Kaarma’s deliberate homicide trial.

Kaarma, 30, is charged with baiting the victim into sneaking into his garage early April 27 and killing him with four shotgun blasts.

Several Missoula police officers testified Friday about what transpired that once they arrived on the scene. Missoula police officer Jacob Jones said he was among the first to arrive and said he asked Kaarma who shot the victim, to which Kaarma replied, “me.”

Jones then took over administering medical aid to Dede and said he was still alive at that time. Sgt. Michael Hebert said a bullet had gone through the garage into the living room wall and into the main entry before stopping. He also saw bullet damage that indicated another bullet went through the door leading from the garage into the home’s laundry room.

Jurors on Friday also heard audio tapes of Pflager talking with police in the hours after the shooting. She told officers that Dede had pleaded for his life, saying, “No, no, no, no, please!”

She testified that Dede did not say anything and that she was “rambling” to officers because she was traumatized.

The trial will resume Monday and is scheduled to continue through Dec. 19.

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