UPDATE – Closing Arguments in the Markus Kaarma Trial [YouTube]
Closing arguments began on the eighth day of the Markus Kaarma trial in Missoula. Prosecution focused on proving that Kaarma had intent to kill any potential burglars in his house based on his actions in the days leading up to the fatal shooting of Diren Dede. Defense emphasized that jurors must have absolutely no doubt in order to find Kaarma guilty.
Prosecution advised the jury to eliminate the many distractions they alleged the defense team has thrown at them in proceedings. Andrew Paul noted Paul Ryan's "slick presentation," and added that the state doesn't have the large team the defense has, nor the means to bring in an expert witness worth $44,000 (referring to Dr. Martinelli), let alone the additional $23,000 for Dr. Johnson's testimony yesterday. "We have the facts and the law" Paul stated.
Paul emphasized that Markus Kaarma had seen Diren Dede on the monitor before he ever entered the garage. They maintain this means Kaarma knew it was a kid and that he was unarmed. They cited Kaarma's statements in Great Clips that he was waiting up to kill some kids who were robbing him. Paul emphasized that Kaarma knew these were kids, but he took action to take Dede's life anyway. They also pointed to testimony from the Kaarma's neighbors that Janelle Pflager told them "guns were loaded" and they intended to bait burglars to return.
As for intent, prosecution pointed to Kaarma's actions confronting a TruGreen lawn rep with a shotgun outside his home without any clothes on as aggressive. Kaarma told the rep he was lucky. "Lucky about what?" questioned Karla Painter. "Lucky it was daylight? Lucky he wasn't standing in Kaarma's garage?" They also cited the testimony of Lewis Richman, the teen who was in Great Clips at the same time as Kaarma. Kaarma ignored all the open seats in the waiting area to sit directly next to Richman and watch porn on his cell phone. Paul questioned if these are the actions of a timid, anxious man or the behavior of a bully. They asserted that Kaarma's statement that he was serious, he was going to kill a kid and people would see it on the news wasn't just venting under stress, but a promise. They argued that defense would tell the jury that the fact that he fatally shot Diren Dede just three days later is a coincidence, but encouraged jurors to take it as a threat Kaarma carried out.
Painter also asserted that once Markus Kaarma left the safety of his home (as they argue a scared person would not have reasonably done), he became the instigator. The state also repeated their claim that anyone truly afraid for their safety would have locked their doors to prevent another burglary.
The state further asserted that Dede was carrying a light source in the garage, citing that the first shot narrowly missed Dede as proof that Kaarma knew where he was in the garage. They emphasized Detective Guy Baker's assessment that Dede then attempted to move across the garage for cover behind Janelle Pflager's Buick, where he left blood from his injured left arm. Prosecution asserted again that Kaarma's shots were not fired across the garage to cover the whole area as he claimed, but that they were specifically chasing Dede. They returned to claims from Janelle Pflager (which she now denies) that Diren Dede called out to Markus Kaarma to wait, then begged him to please stop. But Kaarma did not stop, they argue, he took a moment to adjust his aim ("that's the sickening part," Andrew Paul said) and executed Diren Dede.
Paul further advised the jury that defense will try to tell them that police ignored specifics and did not follow every potential clue. He told jurors that regardless of minutiae, the elements of the case all add up and point to Markus Kaarma deliberately baiting someone into his garage so he could take action. "That shotgun wasn't by the front door for nothing," he added.
Defense emphasized that in order to find Markus Kaarma guilty they must suspend any and all doubts about his actions. If he is guilty, jurors cannot agree that he may have even possibly acted because he was afraid for his life.
Defense attorney Paul Ryan also returned to speculation that police were not able to locate a potential third suspect who may have been with Diren Dede and Robby Pazmino, and that they did not properly document the crime scene in order to pursue the case that Markus Kaarma deliberately killed Dede. Ryan further asserted that the state expects jurors to take leaps of faith when they tell them that Dede crouched behind the Buick for cover, or that there was no potential evidence on Robby Pazmino's phone, which was not searched before it was returned to him.
Both sides have now closed their arguments and the jury has begun to deliberate. Stay tuned for more updates.