Montana man who trapped, killed German student gets 70-year sentence

Montana man sentenced to 70 years in prison for killing German exchange student in trap meant for burglars

A Montana man was sentenced to 70 years in state prison Thursday after he shot and killed a teenage German exchange student last year as part of a trap intended to stop burglars from entering his home.

Markus Hendrick Kaarma, 29, of Missoula will not be eligible for parole until 2035, according to Missoula County Atty. Kirsten Pabst. Kaarma was convicted of deliberate homicide last year for the April shooting death of Diren Dede, a 17-year-old exchange student from Hamburg, Germany.

"Obviously there is no sentence that is going to bring Diren back, the deceased child, and my hope is that this court sentence will bring some small solace to the Dede family," Pabst said in a brief interview with the Los Angeles Times. "He won’t be able to hurt anyone else for at least 20 years.”

Kaarma's Missoula home had been burglarized twice in the weeks leading up to the deadly clash. He and his partner, Janelle Pflager, had set up surveillance equipment in their garage and hung a purse near an open door, hoping to lure potential thieves.

Friends have said Dede was looking to pilfer an alcoholic beverage. 

Seconds after he entered, Kaarma shot him in the head and arm with a shotgun.

The 29-year-old claimed self-defense under Montana law, which generally allows for deadly force if there is a reasonable belief that the home is in danger. 

Kaarma told officers that it was too dark to see inside the garage. He said he "panicked" when he thought Dede might attack him with a tool or a knife, thinking to himself, "I'm gonna die."

Police later arrested two people in connection with one of the earlier burglaries at Kaarma's home. Neither had any connection to Dede.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


2:05 p.m.: This post has been updated with additional detail from the trial.

The first version of this post was published at 11:26 a.m.