MISSOULA, Mon. – Authorities are looking into whether marijuana or alcohol played a role in the case of a Montana homeowner accused of setting a trap and killing a German exchange student in his garage.
A newly published court document reveals Missoula police received a judge’s permission to test whether homeownwer Markus Kaarma was drunk or high when he shot and killed 17-year-old Diren Dede.
Officers found a jar of pot in Kaarma’s home the day he shot the teen, a police statement accompanying an April 28 request for a search warrant said. Kaarma also might have had marijuana stolen from his garage in a previous burglary, the document said.
Police believe Kaarma “may have been impaired by alcohol, dangerous drugs, other drugs, intoxicating substances or a combination of the above, at the time of the incident,” the statement from Detective Dean Chrestenson said.
District Judge Karen Townsend granted the warrant to draw Kaarma’s blood to test whether any traces of intoxicants remained.
The results likely won’t be released publicly while the investigation into Dede’s death is ongoing.
Kaarma’s attorney, Paul Ryan, did not immediately return calls for comment in response to the allegations. In a statement to the media, Ryan said Dede and a companion had broken into garages at least three of four times before the April 27 shooting, and the neighbourhood was on alert after a series of burglaries.
Ryan said he received a transcript from a police interview in which the companion admitted to entering the garages. The statement did not identify the companion, but Ryan told the Missoulian newspaper he is an exchange student who has returned home to Ecuador.
Kaarma, 29, is charged with deliberate homicide in the slaying of Dede, who is from Hamburg. Prosecutors allege Kaarma and his live-in girlfriend set up sensors and a video monitor, then left their garage door open the night of the shooting.
Kaarma had been burgled twice before, and he told his hairdresser that he had stayed up for three nights waiting to shoot some kid, prosecutors said.
The search-warrant request says Kaarma’s girlfriend, Janelle Pflager, told a neighbour that someone had taken all the marijuana and pot pipes out of the garage in a previous burglary.
Pflager also told the neighbour her husband smokes marijuana in the garage, and police found a glass jar of marijuana in his pantry the day of the shooting, the search warrant said.
The night of the shooting, Kaarma and Pflager heard the sensors trip and saw a figure in the garage on the video monitor, prosecutors said. Kaarma took a shotgun out the front door and fired four shots into the dark garage, hitting Dede.
The boy was unarmed, and authorities have declined to say what he was doing in the garage.
Ryan denied Kaarma lured anyone into his garage and said he left the door open to air it out after he and Pflager had been smoking cigarettes.
“Markus believed that the intruder posed an imminent threat to himself and his family,” he said.
A court hearing has been set for May 12.