17-year-old German exchange student shot dead after trespassing in Montana garage
Killer, who allegedly purposely left garage open and monitored CCTV cameras to plead not guilty with defence lawyers invoking state's 'castle doctrine' law
The father of Diren Dede, a 17-year-old German exchange student shot dead in Montana after he trespassed in a garage has said the US "cannot continue to play cowboy".
A lawmaker in the state has said she will fight to have Montana’s stand-your-ground style “castle doctrine” repealed after lawyers representing the man charged with deliberate homicide over the killing said they would use it as a defence.
Markus Kaarma fired several shots from a shotgun into his darkened garage, allegedly without warning, in Missoula, Montana, early on Sunday, killing the teenager from Hamburg. It is unclear what Diren was doing in the garage.
Mr Kaarma, a 29-year-old firefighter, told police that he fired after he had seen a male in his garage through video camera he was monitoring, claiming his home had twice been hit by burglars.
According to a BBC report, it is alleged that on the night of the killing Mr Kaarma had deliberately left the garage door open and placed his partner’s purse in there to bait intruders. The couple then stayed up monitoring motion sensors and a video feed.
Shortly before departing the US after securing the release of his son’s body, Celal Dede told the German news agency DPA: “I didn't think for one night that everyone here can kill somebody just because that person entered his back yard,” explaining that wouldn't have allowed his son to participate in the exchange had he known.
Mr Kaarma was released on $30,000 bail while he awaits trail for murder (AP)
“America cannot continue to play cowboy,” he added.
Mr Kaarma's lawyer, Paul Ryan, said the firefighter was afraid for his life and plans to plead not guilty, arguing that Mr Kaarma didn't know whether the boy was armed or what his intentions were when he entered the garage.
“The young man made a choice and put the wheels in motion that ultimately created this whole situation,” Mr Ryan said.
The defence say they will invoke the state's ‘castle doctrine’, which allows use of force to defend against unlawful entry of a home provided the person reasonably believes it necessary to stop an assault or prevent a forcible felony.
But Montana Representative Ellie Boldman Hill, a Democrat from Missoula, said Diren’s death has prompted her to draft legislation that would strip the law of stand-your-ground provisions.
“Whether it's Trayvon Martin or the tragic killing of this student, it's not the American system of justice for a single individual to act as judge, jury and executioner,” Hill said.
Gary Marbut, president of Montana Shooting Sports Association, said he would oppose any such measure. “I see no evidence to suggest this law is not doing what it's designed to do,” he said.
Team-mates, friends and relatives gather to remember Diren Dede at his football club, SC Teutonia 1910, in Hamburg (Getty)
Celal Dede said he hoped Mr Kaarma would receive a fair punishment. He said his son would be buried in Bodrum, Turkey, where his family is originally from.
The teen was studying for a year at a high school in Missoula and was to leave the US after the school term ended in just a few weeks. His football team in Hamburg, SC Teutonia 1910, played a farewell charity match on Wednesday to raise money for the funeral.
In Montana, a makeshift memorial has been created on Diren host family's front lawn, located around the corner from where the shooting happened. Amid the flowers, German flag, football and balloons were bottles and cans of Sprite - Diren’s favorite drink - arranged in the shape of his initials, “DD.”
Randy Smith and Kate Walker, who hosted the teen for the year, said the neighbors and friends created the memorial to show their support and ease their grief.
“We want them to know this is not America. It's one person, and the rest of the community is so supportive,” Ms Walker said.
Both declined to answer questions about what happened that night or who was with Diren, saying they were waiting for answers from the investigation.
Julia Reinhardt, spokeswoman for the German Consulate in San Francisco, said a parallel investigation into the death is being conducted in Hamburg.
“We expected justice will be done to make it clear that an unarmed 17-year-old German citizen cannot be killed for simply entering a garage,” she said.
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