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Witness list gives insight into Markus Kaarma's defense

By Steve Fetveit, Anchor, sfetveit@keci.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 07:09:35 AM MDT
Updated On: Jun 24 2014 11:26:28 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Marcus Kaarma of Missoula admits he shot 17-year-old Diren Dede in the morning hours of April 27, but he says he pulled the trigger out of fear.

Prosecutors claim Kaarma was agitated.  He'd been victimized by burglaries before and he was out to get the people responsible. 

They claim Kaarma went to his Grant Creek home's garage to confront an intruder he'd been watching on a surveillance camera.  He fired into the dark garage without hearing or saying anything.

Court documents say Dede, a German foreign exchange student, was the intruder.  Prosecutors say the garage was open and Dede was garage hopping, looking for something to drink. 

Since his last court appearance, Kaarma's legal team has been busy building his defense case.  They've interviewed witnesses and hired experts who specialize in the physical and mental evidence that played out on the night Dede died.

Recent court filings list 68 potential witnesses, and while we can't be sure if they will all be called or what they'll say in court, we've discovered what appears to be a common thread -- four paid experts, listed by the defense, appear to be qualified to offer opinions on Kaarma's mental state and the stresses he was under the night of the shooting.

Dr. Ron Martinelli is a criminologist. He founded Martinelli Associates, a Los Angeles area consulting group, in 1980. His associate, Lance Martini, is also on the list.  He's a forensic scientist specializing in firearms and ballistics.

The Martinelli group testifies regularly about stress in confrontational situations, often when connected with officer-involved shootings.

Douglas Johnson is a San Diego-area professor of psychiatry.  He has written professional papers on the neuroscience of stress-related pathology.

Last Friday, Kaarma's defense team outlined evidence and witnesses they'll use to present their case.  We've posted the court documents.  You can read them for yourself.

Defendant's Request for Discovery
Defendant's Notice of Compliance with Discovery
Defendant's Expert Witness Disclosure
Defendant's Preliminary List of Witnesses