Controversy Erupts in Markus Kaarma Trial as Defense Takes on Detective Guy Baker
Sparks flew as Detective Guy Baker was called to the stand in the trial of Markus Kaarma, prompting the defense to undermine Baker's authority as an investigator and accuse him of forming opinions, not facts. In the end an angered Judge McLean put their cross examination on hold and cleared the courtroom ahead of schedule to attend to "housekeeping purposes" with the defense team.
Defense began their heated cross examination by asking "I don't mean to disparage you sir, but you don't have a college degree do you?" Baker agreed that he does not. Defense further asserted that Baker is trying to present himself as a blood spatter expert--a title that requires knowledge of math, science, and biology, etc. Baker's responses grew terse and Judge McLean became visibly angry with the defense, warning them that they should question the witness instead of making statements. When defense continued to argue that Baker was building facts from his own opinions, McLean decided to close court early for the day to address the issue in private.
Defense particularly took issue with Baker's estimation of what happened in the garage when Kaarma went outside to confront Dede. Given that they knew Dede had been hit in the arm first and the way blood evidence moved across the garage, Baker was able to extrapolate the four shots had actually followed Dede as he ran across the room for cover--not a random sequence across the garage, as Kaarma had claimed. Evidence also indicated that the first three shots were actually fired lower than the final shot, refuting Kaarma's assertion that he had aimed high in all shots. Baker asserted that the fourth shot being higher indicated to him that Dede had stood up from a spot behind the Buick's bumper to face Kaarma just before he was shot in the head. That the shot was at an awkward angle also indicated that Kaarma made an adjustment before firing, which would indicate the pause neighbors recalled. The defense objected to this analysis, but was overruled by Judge McLean.
Baker further described that the curious blood placement on the bumper of the Buick indicates that Dede briefly crouched there with his injured arm before standing up and receiving the fatal shot. The defense repeatedly objected to Baker's statements analyzing how Diren Dede moved in the garage based on blood spatter, citing that he is not an expert in the field.
"We don't even know that blood belongs to Mr. Dede. There has been no testing. We're going on a photograph," the defense fired back.
For the most part, Baker's testimony echoed that of Detective Richard Dean Chrestenson, who sat in on Baker's interviews with Markus Kaarma, Janelle Pflager, and Robby Pazmino. Tension began building when Baker took the jury through a video of the interview he and Chrestenson conducted with Markus Kaarma at around 7 a.m. on April 27, 2014--roughly seven hours after the shooting of Diren Dede in Kaarma's garage.
The video began with Baker and Chrestenson reading Kaarma his rights and verifying that he was ready to continue. Kaarma then walked them through what had happened that night. He described a similar sequence of events to what his common-law wife Janelle Pflager previously testified to--that they had put the baby to bed at 7:30, began watching Lincoln, paused it after finding it slow, went to the garage to smoke, and briefly spent some time in the hot tub.
It is there that the discrepancies Chrestenson had described began, which led both him and Baker to suspect that this was a case of homicide, not self defense.
According to Kaarma, Janelle said "showtime" when she began getting alerts that the motion detectors outside had been tripped. Kaarma ran outside with his shotgun and stood in the entrance to the garage. He said that Janelle flipped on the outdoor light that was "four inches" from his eyeball and temporarily blinded him (Janelle's statement indicated that she ran back inside to turn on the outdoor light after the first shot or two were fired). Kaarma claims he "couldn't see a damn thing in there," but suddenly heard a noise he described as sounding like metal on metal, or like a wrench was being picked up.
Kaarma claims that it occurred to him that they have axes in the garage, that he had just trapped someone in the garage, and was now standing directly in the only way for them to get out again. It was then that Kaarma began shooting, four total shots from right to left. He asserts that he shot high to avoid hitting anyone, assuming that whoever was in the garage would crouch down in terror. He remembers yelling out for Janelle to "call 911" and says the sound was like an echo in his head because of the ringing from the blasts.
Next thing he knew, Janelle opened the interior door into the garage from the house and turned the light on, already on the phone with the 911 dispatcher. That's when he saw a head in a pool of blood. He said the dispatcher gave Janelle instructions to care for the man and Janelle began going through his wallet, revealing that the man in their garage wasn't "even a U.S. citizen."
Kaarma claimed not to have seen anyone in the garage until Janelle turned on the lights.
Asked how they had known someone was in the garage, Kaarma described it as Janelle's doing--saying that she wanted the people who had burglarized their garage to come back so they could catch them. He claimed that he thought this was foolish and didn't want anyone else coming into his garage, ever.
Kaarma told Baker and Chrestenson that when the alarm went off the shotgun was placed on the floor in the entryway, just four feet from the front door.
Baker and Chrestenson noticed discrepancies in Kaarma's statement. First, the issue of whether or not Janelle turned on the exterior lights before or after shots were fired. Janelle heard Kaarma call out, then Dede respond from within the garage, but Kaarma claimed he only heard a metal sound (Pazmino also heard Kaarma yell angrily before he heard shots). Kaarma claimed to have fired four shots in quick succession across the garage, but Janelle and neighbors heard a pause before the final shot.
Statements from the hairstylists at Great Clips, who heard Kaarma claim that he was staying up all night waiting for burglars to return so he could kill them, sealed the deal for Baker and other detectives, who agreed to charge Markus Kaarma with deliberate homicide in the death of Diren Dede.