We covered the trial and the guilty verdict of Markus Kaarma in December. Kaarma was the Missoula, Montana, homeowner who was angry because burglars had hit his opened garage on several occasions, and so he set an intentional trap. He even publicly stated his desire to lure in a burglar and kill him.
Unfortunately, his trap was successful, and when thieving foreign exchange student Diren Dede set off Kaarma’s motion detector hoping to swipe some beer, Kaarma blindly blasted his way into the garage with a shotgun, killing the unarmed 17-year-old burglar with his fourth shot.
Kaarma attempted a “castle doctrine” defense that never stood a chance.
…There is a clear difference between being forced to defend yourself or someone else against the threat of serious injury or death, and setting a trap to lure someone into a fatal ambush. Markus Kaarma clearly didn’t grasp that difference. He wasn’t in fear for his life. He wanted revenge for his drugs (marijuana) and other petty items being stolen in two previous burglaries.
He did publicly express his premeditated desire to, “seriously kill some … kids.”
Looking at the testimony collected from people who had had run-ins with Kaarma in the weeks before the ambush, he seemed clear violent and unstable, and had almost murdered a landscaper for spraying his lawn for pests before killing Dede.
Was Dede in the wrong for attempting to steal beer from Kaarma’s garage? Absolutely. That isn’t in question, either.
But for Castle doctrine to apply, Kaarma would have had to be in fear for his life, not baiting a trap and staying awake for nights on end in hopes of ambushing and killing another human being.
Kaarma faced between 10-100 years in prison, and was sentenced to 70 years.
In handing down the stiff sentence, District Judge Ed McLean said Kaarma went beyond safeguarding his home when he fired his pump-action shotgun four times, hitting the intruder in the head with the final blast.
“You didn’t protect your residence, you went hunting,” McLean said. “And here you have a 12-gauge shotgun that’s loaded. Not to protect your family but to go after somebody.”
“You are angry at the world and it’s evident in your behavior,” the judge added.
Jailhouse recordings show Kaarma to be a sick man who enjoys the jailhouse notoriety of being known as a murderer among other inmates.
I rather doubt he’ll find it as much fun in prison for at least the next 20 years, when he will first be eligible for parole.