Montana Man Markus Kaarma Found Guilty in Slaying of German Exchange Student

Markus Kaarma, center, is flanked by his defense attorneys, Brian Smith, left, and Paul Ryan, as he listens to testimony during his trial in Missoula, Mont., in the shooting death of Diren Dede, in this Dec. 8, 2014, file photo.PlayKurt Willson/The Missoulian/AP Photo
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Markus Kaarma has been found guilty in the slaying of 17-year-old German exchange student Diren Dede, whom he shot after the teen wandered into Kaarma’s Grant Creek, Montana, garage.

Kaarma had claimed that he killed the teenager inside his garage this spring out of fear for the safety of his family. Montana law allows a homeowner to protect himself with deadly force if threatened. Prosecutors say Kaarma bragged about wanting to "shoot some kids" and left his garage door open, baiting a would-be robber.

The jury in Missoula agreed, convicting Kaarma today of deliberate homicide.

Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 11. He's facing a sentence ranging from 10 to 100 years.

Markus Kaarma headed into Missoula District Court May 21, 2014, in Missoula, Mont.Michael Gallacher/The Missoulian/AP Photo
Markus Kaarma headed into Missoula District Court May 21, 2014, in Missoula, Mont.

Kaarma's attorney, Paul Ryan, had said his client didn't intend to kill Dede. "He was scared for his life," Ryan said.

Missoula County Deputy Attorney Andrew Paul said this wasn’t an act of self-defense, but of murder by an angry man who set a trap.

Kaarma, 30, had left the garage door partially open in the early hours of April 27 when he blindly fired four shots into the garage after spotting a trespasser, charging documents said. Dede was hit in the head and arm and died a short time later at the hospital.

“Many of his [Kaarma's] neighbors have contacted our office and have expressed serious concerns about neighborhood safety,” county attorney Paul said. “They are scared of him.”

In court documents, Kaarma is described as acting aggressively toward other drivers on the road and telling stylists at a hair salon that he’d been waiting up at night for intruders, saying, “I’m seriously going to kill some f**king kids.”

Kaarma's legal troubles may not be over. German authorities have submitted a letter saying they are watching closely and could pursue a case of their own.