Neighbors Describe Kaarma’s Behavior Before the Shooting, Accusations of Baiting
Following testimony of Robby Pazmino, the state brought out a series of neighbors to describe not only what they heard in the early hours of April 27, but what they heard from Markus Kaarma and Janelle Pflager in the weeks leading up to the shooting.
Robin Rosenquist, who lives almost directly across the street from Kaarma, was up first. Rosenquist teared up on the stand as she described the neighborhood as a generally safe, happy place for families. She used to allow her kids to run and play around the street, and says they often ran through the yards of her neighbors without fear.
She first met Markus Kaarma sometime before Christmas in 2013, when Markus approached her as they both were shoveling. Rosenquist says he did not seem nervous or scared to introduce himself. She did not get to know the Kaarmas well.
Rosenquist claims that Janelle Pflager, Markus Kaarma's common-law wife (who previously testified), came over to her house on around April 18 to explain why police had been at their home the previous night. She says Janelle told her about the burglaries in the garage and that Markus was "pissed because his favorite pipe was stolen." Pflager also told Rosenquist that a wallet and Markus' cell phone had been taken. Pflager added that if the phone's GPS had been activated police could have located the phone, but that Markus was paranoid about tracking capabilities. According to Rosenquist, Janelle had called the cell and told the burglars to return the phone. Pflager told her that she had a baby monitor that activated video when it sensed movement, and that she planned to go to Costco to get another one to place in the garage. Rosenquist remembers asking Pflager if she really thought the burglars would return, at which point Pflager replied "Oh yeah. He's going to come back because we're going to bait him." Rosenquist asserts that Pflager definitely used the word 'bait,' because she remembers being surprised that anyone would want burglars to return to their home.
Rosenquist admitted to limited interaction with Kaarma himself, but described Pflager as someone who talks a lot and dominates conversation. She also described Pflager as "aggressive" and "determined" by nature. She recalls thinking that she would rather let police handle the matter, but Pflager was dissatisfied and seemed annoyed by the police because all she felt they had done was tell her to lock her doors. Rosenquist added that it seemed Pflager would not close her garage door even if police told her to do so. Rosenquist recommended Pflager alert the neighborhood association, but did not know if she had done so.
Jessica Bracey, who lives on Prospect (behind the Kaarma residence), came next. Bracey states that five dollars were stolen from her unlocked car once, but the incident never repeated after she made sure the car was locked going forward. Bracey alleges that Janelle Pflager came to her at their back fence about a week before the shooting to tell her about the burglaries in the Kaarma garage. Bracey claims that Pflager told her "guns are loaded," but that she didn't want to end up killing some fourteen year-old kid. Bracey also asserts that Pflager told her they planned to bait burglars into their garage and use baby monitors to catch them. Bracey distinctly remembers the word 'bait' because it struck her as odd.
Bracey lives across the street from the host family where Diren Dede was staying, and remembers seeing him shoveling. She said that he always smiled and waved, and seemed friendly.
Neighbors Jennifer Fink, Zachary Bracey, Tom Fink, Zachary Scott, and Michelle Jensen all testified that they heard shots. The number of shots heard varied from three to four, but all testified that there was a brief pause before the final shot.Zachary Bracey admits that he grabbed his gun after hearing shots, but claims although he had it for protection he would not have used it without a viable threat to his family. Mr. Bracey also recalls Janelle Pflager telling him that she had been carjacked in Detroit, that she was angry about the break-ins in Missoula and wanted something more done.