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Police: Pot might be factor in exchange student shooting

  • APThis undated still image taken from video shows Markus Kaarma at his home in Missoula
    AP
    This undated still image taken from video shows Markus Kaarma at his home in Missoula

MISSOULA, Mont. >> 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 the homeowner was drunk or high when he shot and killed 17-year-old Diren Dede.

Officers found a jar of pot in Markus Kaarma’s home the day he shot Dede, 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.

Kaarma’s attorney, Paul Ryan, did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday. Ryan has said Kaarma plans to cite Montana’s self-defense laws in pleading not guilty to the charge.

Kaarma, 29, is charged with deliberate homicide in the April 27 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 in Missoula.

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 neighbor that someone had taken all the marijuana and pot pipes out of the garage in a previous burglary.

Pflager also told the neighbor 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.

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