Kaarma Neighbors Refute Accusations of Bias [YouTube]
Testimony in the Markus Kaarma trial heated up this afternoon with the testimony of Leslie Wozniak and Terry Klise, as the defense ramped up accusations of bias against Markus Kaarma.
The defense team's cross-examination of Klise was particularly fiery. "You don't want to be here, you don't want to help Markus out," the defense asserted. "You're not going to say anything that works out in Markus' favor." Klise claimed he has no reason to like or dislike Markus Kaarma, and in a redirect from the prosecution he asserted that he is only telling the truth. Defense also asserted that Klise was served a subpoena recently and asked the woman who delivered it if she had a match so he could burn it. Klise agreed that he "may very well have."
In his testimony, Klise revealed that his car had also been ransacked on April 17, but blamed himself for leaving his garage door open. He discussed the burglaries with Kaarma and Janelle Pflager and says some of the things Pflager said at the time struck him as odd. He said that Pflager called Kaarma's stolen cell phone and screamed profanities at the burglar when he answered the phone. Klise claims that Pflager said "if you continue to return for our garage you could be killed." He referred to this as jaw-dropping, but adds that the investigating officer didn't seem phased.
The morning after the shooting, Klise and his wife did not know why police were outside the Kaarma home. His wife texted Pflager to ask if she was OK. Pflager replied that she was not, and invited the Klises over.
Klise says that almost immediately Pflager told him "you don't have to worry about the burglaries anymore because he's dead." He described her demeanor as cold and matter-of-fact. According to Klise, Pflager showed him and his wife around the house, pointing out bullet-holes and explaining the oil dripping onto the kitchen floor (previously seen in Detective Lang's walk-through of the crime scene). Klise compared Pflager's attitude to that of a person showing off her new furniture, or a piano she was proud of. He claims she offered to show the Klises the garage and bloodstains in there but they declined and left. Klise asserts that he and his wife went to comfort Pflager but left feeling very uncomfortable.
Three members of the Wozniak family, who live on the same street as Markus Kaarma, also took the stand to tell jurors about what they heard the night of the shooting and to respond to claims by the defense that neighbors banded together against Markus Kaarma.
The Wozniak family is of particular note in the Kaarma trial because they have a security camera outside of their home. This system was set up about three years ago after several incidents in which the Wozniak home was egged. Visibility is limited, especially at night. Defense takes issue with the fact that officers told Leslie Wozniak that an officer would come back to collect this footage as evidence, but none ever did. After thirty days the security system erases footage and records over it. The four security cameras do not view the Kaarma house and do not record sound. Tom Wozniak explained the security system to the jurors but was not home on the night of the shooting.
Leslie Wozniak told the jury that she was falling asleep when she heard four loud bangs in quick succession (she does not recall a pause as other neighbors did). At first, she thought that her house was being egged again. She believes she heard voices before the shots, but cannot recall exactly when. When Wozniak did look out a window she recalls seeing police cars and Randy, the man Diren Dede was staying with, walking down the street (described further in Robby Pazmino's testimony earlier today). Wozniak then texted neighbors Robin Rosenquist and the Klises to see if they were home and OK.
Defense asked Wozniak if she would characterize the neighborhood as tightly knit and she agreed. Leslie also admitted that she is friendly with many of her neighbors. Defense then pointedly asked if Leslie Wozniak is biased against Markus Kaarma. Wozniak replied that she is biased against what happened, not Kaarma himself. She admitted that many neighbors aren't a fan of Markus Kaarma or what he did that night, herself included. Pressed for specific names, Wozniak admitted that Robin Rosenquist (who testified earlier) and Mrs. Klise feel the same way she does.
Wozniak tearfully added that she has a seventeen year-old son as well, and worries that it could have been him. It could have been any kid in the neighborhood. Asked by the prosecution if she feels that the neighborhood is banding together against Kaarma, Wozniak said "We haven't been banding together. We're just telling the truth as best we know." She also denies the allegation that neighbors got together to make sure their stories match.
Wozniak's son Dylan then testified that he was playing video games when he heard a loud yell followed by five gunshots. He could not discern any words, just the noise of someone yelling. He described it as a man's voice. When he looked out the window he saw lights on in the Kaarma house but not the garage, where two people were moving around. He then saw a woman with what he thought at the time was a large stick go into the Kaarma house through the front door. He now knows it was Janelle Pflager bringing the shotgun into the house in order to comply with the 911 operator's instructions (as revealed in her testimony).
Dylan Wozniak is the same age as Diren Dede and Robby Pazmino but attends Hellgate High School, not Big Sky. He never met either of the exchange students.