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Missoula man accused of shooting student pleads not guilty

Edward O'Brien

The  Missoula man charged with shooting a German exchange student has pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide.

Markus Kaarma, 29, was arraigned today in the April 27 death of 17-year-old Diren Dede. 

Prosecutors allege Kaarma and his girlfriend set up motion sensors and video cameras to try to catch the thieves who had recently burglarized their garage.

Kaarma is accused of firing four shots into the garage after they spotted a trespasser.  Dede was hit in the head and arm.

Kaarma has said he feared for his life and was defending his property.

Missoula County prosecutor Andrew Paul asked District Judge Ed McLean today to increase Kaarma's $30,000 bond to $500,000. Paul said the lower court's initial bond was insufficient. He said several of Kaarma's neighbors had contacted the county prosecutor's office expressing concerns about neighborhood safety. He said many are scared of him and consider him to be aggressive, violent and irrational.  

Defense attorney Brian Smith argued that Kaarma has lived up to all conditions of release and has displayed no indication that he plans to violate those terms. Smith said prosecutors are simply reacting to public outcry and the polarizing nature of the case.

Judge McLean sided with the defense after confirming all of Kaarma's firearms have been turned over to law enforcement and noted he's missed no court appointments.

McLean did ask Kaarma, who has posted bond, to turn over his passport by day's end.

Lead defense attorney Paul Ryan says it's too soon to say whether his team may request a change of venue.

Kaarma's common law wife, Janelle Pflager, attended the hearing, along with the couple's infant child.


Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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