The Deliberate Homicide Charge That Could Take on the Castle Doctrine
First, as a person who lives in Missoula, I’d like to express my condolences to the parents of Diren Dede, the 17 year old German exchange student who was killed early Sunday morning in a Missoula garage. I’m especially sorry that the manner in which Diren was killed ensures this case will receive some intense media scrutiny as word starts spreading about what has been alleged to have transpired in that garage.
The official complaint was released earlier today and everyone absolutely needs to read it.
When I wrote this post yesterday, nothing was known about what happened. That has changed, significantly.
According to the complaint, Markus Kaarma and his wife, Janelle Pflager (who should also be criminally charged) essentially set a trap to catch kids they suspected of a previous break-in. They left their garage door partially open and used a purse as bait.
Markus also potentially established pre-meditation by making comments to his Great Clips hair stylist. The statement by the stylist alleges Markus Kaarma responded to her obligatory “how are you doing” small talk with this:
“I’m just waiting to shoot some fucking kid.”
When Diren took the bait it was the culmination of careful planning. First, a sensor in the driveway went off, then a second sensor in the garage. This alerted the couple (who had been waiting for days, according to the hair stylist) to check their live security camera feed.
What they saw on the screen was someone in their garage. Janelle took screen shots of the live camera feed with her phone while her husband exited the front door with his shotgun, instead of calling 911.
What Markus hears coming from the garage is a sound he describes as “metal on metal” which makes him scared this person may exit the garage to harm him. According to the complaint, “he stated he did not see anyone and did not communicate with anyone prior to the shooting.”
Then he shot his shotgun four times in a spraying motion toward the darkened interior of the garage. Two shots hit and killed Diren.
Markus Kaarma is now facing charges of deliberate homicide. It’s unclear if charges will be brought against Janelle Pflager.
Now that this tragedy has happened, there will be the inevitable backlash. State Rep. Ellie Hill (D-HD 94) has already stated intentions to push for a legislative fix on Twitter:
I submitted a bill draft today to repeal the castle doctrine in Montana. Enough is enough. #MTPol
I understand the desire to make it less easy to justify using lethal force. It’s a position I agree with. That said, the thought of Montana Democrats using their limited political capital on this issue makes me cringe. It’s political poison, and a distraction to more important issues, like expanding Medicaid.
Let the Castle Doctrine defense try to justify the lethal force used by Markus Kaarma. It’s a case the Montana Supreme court should get a crack at.