A Montana man was charged with deliberate homicide on Monday, two days after he shot and killed a German exchange student he found in his garage after setting a trap for burglars.
Last week, Markus Hendrik Kaarma and his common-law wife, Janelle Pflager, set the trap—which included a surveillance camera and motion sensors—in their garage hoping to catch the person Kaarma claims stole into his house multiple times, stealing a cell phone and credit cards. Pflager told police she purposefully left her purse in the garage, with the door open, as bait.
According to an affidavit obtained by the Missoulian, at about 12:30 am Sunday morning, Kaarma heard a noise in his garage.
"He stated he heard a noise that sounded like metal on metal and he was afraid that the intruder would exit the garage and harm him," the affidavit said. "It was dark and he could not see into the garage."
"He stated he thought he was going to die and that the guy would try to get out of the garage, and described thinking he could act like a caged animal. ... He stated he didn't want the male to get away and that he wanted him to be caught. He stated that the police can't catch burglars in the act."
So Kaarma did what any responsible gun owner would do: He sprayed four shots from his shotgun around the garage, striking 17-year-old Dire Dede in the shoulder and head. Dede, who was unarmed, later died from his injuries.
Kaarma claims he didn't speak with Dede but Pflager, his wife, told police she heard Kaarma say "Hey, hey" as he chambered the shotgun. Pflager also said Dede said "hey" or "wait" before her husband opened fire.
Before the shooting, Kaarma allegedly told his hairstylist that he hoped to shoot the person breaking into his home. "I'm just waiting to shoot some (expletive) kid," Kaarma said, according to the affidavit.
"He told (the stylist) that he had been burglarized a few times, that was why he was waiting up at night to catch someone and shoot them. (She) reported that the defendant was being extremely vulgar and belligerant. She asked the defendant to quit swearing and he said he could say 'whatever the (expletive)' he wanted."
Dede, a German exchange student, was a junior at Big Sky High School, where he was a popular member of the soccer team.
Kaarma's attorney, Paul Ryan, defended his client's actions.
"He took the steps that no one wants to take and shot," Ryan said. "It wasn't his intent to kill because he didn't know who was in there, and where the person was, and what was in the person's hands as far as weapons."
"It was a split second," Ryan said. "It happened very quickly, and unfortunately a young man lost his life."
Prosecutor Andrew Paul disagreed, as did the judge who decided to charge Kaarma.
"The state doesn't believe that Kaarma identified Dede as a threat to commit a forcible felony in the garage," Paul told the Missoulian. "He actually sought Dede out by essentially trapping him in the garage."
Kaarma was released on $30,000 bail.