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Kaarma Trial Brings Scrutiny To 'Castle Doctrine'

Edward O'Brien

The trial of Missoula's Markus Kaarma will likely renew debate about the "Castle Doctrine".

University of Montana law professor, Andrew King-Ries says the specific term, "Castle Doctrine", isn't mentioned in state statute.

"I think what people refer to when they say 'The Castle Doctrine' is the ability to use force to defend an occupied structure; and by 'occupied structure', most people are thinking about their home," says King-Ries.

Outbuildings are included in that definition.

King-Reis says the jury will have to determine if Kaarma was trying to prevent an assault on his family who was in the house.

"If they don't believe a potential assault could take place, then is there some other forcible felony that you are trying to prevent? One of the issues will be burglary itself - trying to prevent this burglary - is that itself a forcible felony?"

Opening arguments in Marcus Kaarma's trial are scheduled to begin Tuesday. We'll have more perspectives on the Castle Doctrine Tuesday as well. 

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at
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