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  • Kaarma found guilty of deliberate homicide

    By Will Wadley, KECI Weekend Anchor, wwadley@keci.com
    Published On: Dec 17 2014 08:41:38 AM MST
    Updated On: Dec 17 2014 02:53:22 PM MST
    MISSOULA, Mont. -

    A jury of eight women and four men has convicted a Missoula man of deliberate homicide in the shooting death of a German exchange student.

    Deliberations began Tuesday and jurors returned at 8:30 Wednesday morning in order to reach a verdict in the trial of Markus Kaarma.

    Kaarma, 30, was found guilty of deliberate homicide for the death of 17-year-old Diren Dede. He was booked into the Missoula County jail at 2:05 p.m. No bail was set.

    Kaarma claimed he was scared for his life when he shot and killed Dede. The German teen had reportedly entered Kaarma’s garage on April 27, looking for something to drink.

    Closing arguments from the prosecution and defense wrapped up shortly after noon Tuesday, and the jury was released for the day at 5:30 p.m. after it failed to reach a verdict.

    Prosecutors asked for a hearing to be set for Thursday, so that Dede's family could speak to the court before a sentencing hearing is set.

    Kaarma's sentencing date is set for February 11. A presentence investigation report is due February 4. 

    Dede's parents will give testimony about the sentencing Thursday morning at 10 a.m. at the Missoula County Courthouse.

  • Kaarma jury to return Wednesday morning

    By Lauren Bradley, Reporter, lbradley@keci.com
    Published On: Dec 16 2014 09:38:08 AM MST
    Updated On: Dec 16 2014 08:55:44 PM MST
    MISSOULA, Mont. -

    A jury of eight women and four men has not yet reached a verdict in the trial of the Missoula man who shot and killed a German exchange student.  The jury started its deliberations shortly after noon Tuesday, and will return Wednesday morning to continue deliberating.

    The jury asked the judge to review video introduced during Markus Kaarma's trial. No specifics on what the jury was looking for.  The judge cleared the courtroom of all press to bring the jury in around 3:45 p.m.

    Kaarma, 29, claims he was scared for his life when he shot and killed 17-year-old Diren Dede. Dede had reportedly entered his garage April 27, looking for something to drink.

    The prosecution and the defense presented their closing arguments Tuesday morning.

    Kaarma's neighbors, Dede's parents and host parents and key witness Janelle Pflager, Kaarma's partner, piled into the courtroom to hear final words from both the prosecution and the defense.

    In their rebuttal, prosecutors called Kaarma the aggressor and told the jury it is "sickening" that he adjusted his aim for the final gunshot.   Witnesses testified Kaarma fired three times at roughly the same level, but readjusted and raised his aim for the shot that killed Dede.

    Prosecutor Karla Painter hammered home that Kaarma's meant to fire the gun. They brought up what he reportedly told a hairdresser.
    "I'm not kidding you're going to see this on the news. This is what he wanted. This," said Painter.
    The state claims Kaarma's intention was clear between the menacing comments made at Great Clips hair salon and how he pointed a gun at the TruGreen lawn care employee.

    Prosecutors say Kaarma wasn't scared, he was angry and he harbored those feelings the night of the shooting.

    "The defendant would have you believe that this was venting that the fact that the defendant shot and killed an unarmed child three days later was a coincidence," said Painter.

    The jury must decide beyond a reasonable doubt whether Kaarma committed deliberate homicide.

    Here are the elements of the deliberate homicide charge:

    •     State law says a person commits deliberate homicide if the person "knowingly or purposefully" causes the death of another person.
    •     As outlined in the law,  "purposefully" means the defendant meant to shoot or kill someone else.
    •     "Knowingly" means the suspect knows what they are doing and understands a person could die.
    •     The jury does not have any other, lesser charge to consider.

    Earlier in the day, the defense told the jury no one in the courtroom is "OK" with Dede's death, but that he was going to "violate the sanctity of someone's home" when he walked in Kaarma's garage.

    Defense Attorney Paul Ryan fired back and said Kaarma felt violated by previous burglaries and his garage was a special place for him and Pflager.

    Defense attorneys described Kaarma's garage as a "sanctuary" where he would go with his partner, Janelle Pflager, to discuss issues.

    "For them, this is a very sacred place they would sit there and discuss things, talk about all kinds of things, life, financial stuff, I'm sure. Laugh and tell jokes. This was an important spot for them," said Ryan.

    The defense says Kaarma went into protection mode when he saw Dede in his garage.

    "He's standing at the door shaking, looking at the lock. Can you imagine? He's been burglarized twice before. We don't know what they are doing, the police won't do anything about it," said Ryan.

    Paul Ryan went on to outline the Castle Doctrine for the jury, and to argue that Kaarma had no choices.

    Montana does have a castle law with a “stand-your-ground” clause. Under the law, the use of deadly force is permissible to prevent felonies from being committed in one’s home or to protect against assault within one’s home.

    The statute reads:

    •       45-3-103. Use of force in defense of occupied structure. (1) A person is justified in the use of force or threat to use force against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that the use of force is necessary to prevent or terminate the other person's unlawful entry into or attack upon an occupied structure.
    •          (2) A person justified in the use of force pursuant to subsection (1) is justified in the use of force likely to cause death or serious bodily harm only if:
    •          (a) the entry is made or attempted and the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent an assault upon the person or another then in the occupied structure; or
    •          (b) the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent the commission of a forcible felony in the occupied structure.

    Prosecutors began their closing statements by telling the jury it is time to eliminate the distractions in the case.  Those distractions include "burglaries in the neighborhood, the Castle Doctrine, and a neighbor's surveillance footage."

    Prosecutors went on to say Dede pleaded for his life and Kaarma went on to shoot him in the face.  In addition, attorneys for the state say the danger must be present in order to use deadly force, and that Kaarma had other options like locking the garage door and turning on the light.

    Prosecutors told the jury Kaarma is proud of what he did, and thinks the neighborhood should "rejoice."

    Four hours after closing arguments began and then ended.  The case was handed to the jury of eight women and four men to decide.

    The jury reviewed video until 5:30 p.m. and then they were dismissed. They will continue to review the video at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.

  • One dead after plane crash northwest of Ronan

    By KECI Staff
    Published On: Dec 16 2014 05:08:13 PM MST
    Updated On: Dec 16 2014 09:39:46 PM MST
    PLANE CRASH NW OF RONAN
    RONAN, Mont. -

    One person is dead and another is in the hospital after a small plane crashed in a hillside northwest of Ronan.

    Lake County officials say the survivor of the crash was taken by helicopter to Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

    The survivor and the deceased were the only people on board the plane when it came down around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

    National Transportation Safety Board officials are on the way to the site. They will have to hike in to investigate the wreckage.

    The pilot, who was killed in the crash, is a male from Alaska. The injured passenger is a Lake County resident. That person's condition is unkown at this time.

    The flight plan, names and ages of the occupants are not being released at this time.

    The Lake County Sheriff's Office sent out the following press release:

    Today at approximately 4:30 PM, local residents contacted the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch and reported that a small plane with two occupants had crashed into a hillside northwest of Ronan.  The rugged terrain hampered responders’ efforts to reach the crash site.  The pilot of the plane who was from Alaska was pronounced dead at the scene. The passenger, a local Lake County resident was taken by Alert helicopter to Kalispell Regional Medical Center.  His condition is unknown at this time.  The names of the deceased male pilot and the name of the passenger are being withheld pending notification of family members.

     

    The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified and the NTSB investigator will arrive in the morning from Portland, OR.  The body of the pilot was transported to the State Crime Lab in Missoula for autopsy in accordance with FAA standard requirements.  The crash site will be secured by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office until NTSB investigators arrive tomorrow morning.

     

    The plane was a two seater tandem Piper aircraft.  Although the flight plan is unknown at this time, it is believed that the flight originated out of the Polson airport.

     

    The responders who made this recovery/rescue were Ronan Fire Department, Ronan Ambulance, Polson Ambulance, Montana Highway Patrol, Polson Police Department Lake County Sheriff’s Office coroner and the Lake County Search and Rescue Unit.

     

    Further information will be released as it becomes available.  Please contact Lake County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Karen Sargeant at (406) 249-5123 with questions. 

  • FVCC surgical technology students to use Google Glass

    By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
    Published On: Dec 16 2014 06:53:48 PM MST
    Updated On: Dec 16 2014 11:48:04 PM MST
    KALISPELL, Mont. -

    Flathead Valley Community College is adding a new piece of technology into the curriculum.

    Surgical technology students will soon be using Google Glass to record themselves during simulated operations.

    Scalpels and forceps are among the tools of the trade for surgical technology students at FVCC. But now they’re adding something new to the curriculum -- Google Glass. It’s used for more than just helping them see.

    "It's basically a wearable computer you can surf the internet from it, you can record what you're looking at and take pictures, you can recover files," said Rob Blackston, surgical technology program director.

    The students will wear them during simulated operations as a new learning technique.

    "I recognized a need for the students to be able to critique themselves in the laboratory setting before they go into the hospital. They'll be able to get that first-person view of what they’re doing and record it so that they can see exactly what they’re doing and either fix their mistakes or do it a different way,” Blackston said.

    Blackston says Google Glass is especially useful for people in an operating room.

    "Because of the confines of our sterile technique, being gowned and gloved, Google Glass works so well because it's hands-free and wearable. You can use it with voice commands," he said.

    When you wear the Google Glass it looks like a small computer screen that appears in the top right of your vision field. Some worry this could be distracting for people who are operating. Blackston disagrees.

    "I think because of the intensity of surgery and the intensity of the clinical skills that they're practicing, more than anything it’s not going to be a distraction," Blackston said.

    That’s why some think the device will soon be added to the list of tools that appear in operating rooms, in the near future.

    The Flathead Valley Community College Foundation gave a grant to the surgical technology program to purchase two pairs of Google Glass. Students will start using them this spring.

  • Secret Santa adoptions at Humane Society deliver gift of love

    By Adam Painter, Reporter/Meteorologist, apainter@keci.com
    Published On: Dec 16 2014 05:29:58 PM MST
    Updated On: Dec 16 2014 11:40:36 PM MST
    MISSOULA, Mont. -

    Give the gift of love this holiday season -- that's the slogan being used by the Humane Society of Western Montana. For the first time, they are unleashing Secret Santa adoptions.

    The old myth was to never give a pet as a gift.  Director Lora O'Connor said, "I think it's one of those myths that people just assumed to be true."

    The ASPCA, or American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, has put an end to that.

    O'Connor said, "The ASPCA did some really exciting research and found that pets as gifts actually is a good thing.  That people are more likely to keep their pets if they're given as gifts."

    And that's the whole point -- for owners to keep their pets.

    Right now, the Humane Society of Western Montana has 80 cats and 50 dogs up for adoption.  If that's not your style, you could give a lettuce-eating guinea pig or put a mouse under your Christmas tree.  All you've got to do is pick one out, and your shopping is done.

    For these Secret Santa adoptions, they will deliver to you on Christmas Day to spots like Florence, Lolo and Missoula.

    The reservation window is open until Tuesday, December 23. The Humane Society has staff and volunteers fueled up for Christmas Day.

    O'Connor added, "We have two shifts.  Morning and afternoon.  And we'll see how it goes this week with appointments."

    O'Connor wants to remind folks to make sure before you give a lively present like a pet, that the new owner wants a furry gift.

    Here's a breakdown of the adoption fees which include spay and neuter, vaccinations, as well as micro-chipping.  A cat is $50, while a kitten is $100.  A dog costs $100 dollars, while a puppy is $135.

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