Just days before he killed a 17-year-old German exchange student, Markus Kaarma told a hairstylist he had been waiting up to shoot some kids who were burglarizing homes. Kaarma hoped to bait an intruder by leaving his garage door partially open and placing a purse inside, Montana prosecutors said. And when he did, a motion detector alerted him early April 27. Kaarma took a shotgun outside and almost immediately fired four blasts into the garage. An unarmed Diren Dede was hit twice, dying after the final shot hit him in the head. For those reasons, Kaarma's "castle doctrine" defense, which allows people to use deadly force to protect their home and family, failed him yesterday, when a Missoula jury convicted him of deliberate homicide.
Diren's parents hugged and cried when the verdict was announced. "It is very good," his father, Celal Dede, said. "Long live justice." More than 30 US states, including Montana, have laws expanding the right of people to use deadly force to protect their homes or themselves, some of them known as "stand your ground" laws. Kaarma's attorneys argued at trial that he feared for his life, didn't know if the intruder was armed, and was on edge because his garage was burglarized at least once in the weeks before the shooting. But in addition to testimony from the hairstylist, jurors heard neighbors testify that Kaarma's girlfriend told them the couple planned to bait and catch a burglar because they believed police weren't responding. Kaarma faces a minimum of 10 years in prison when he's sentenced Feb. 11; his lawyers will appeal. (Read more murder stories.)