Diren Dede’s Friend Robby Pazmino Describes Markus Kaarma Shooting in Court [YouTube]
Robby Pazmino, the Ecuadorian exchange student who was with Diren Dede when Dede entered Markus Kaarma's garage, took the stand on the fourth day of Kaarma's trial in Missoula.
Pazmino first met Dede at an orientation in New York but did not speak to him until they both arrived at the airport here in Missoula. According to Pazmino, he and Dede became best friends very quickly. They shared interests and they felt that they had similar cultural backgrounds. They enjoyed the same games, liked the same girls, etc. Pazmino got along with the family where Dede was staying and spent a lot of time at their home.
Pazmino says he first heard the term 'garage hopping' here in the U.S., but had thought until recently that it was 'garage shopping.' He recalls being at a party in the fall of 2013 and deciding to go get alcohol with a friend. He had thought getting alcohol would be easy like in his home country, but that proved not to be true, and they garage hopped. Pazmino was unsure that what they were doing was good, but it seemed like everyone was doing it--not just at Big Sky High School but Sentinel as well. Pazmino did not want to go into the garages, but Dede did. He described Dede as "brave" and that he "wasn't scared of anything." Pazmino says that he and Dede thought of it as a game; they were never told that there could be real consequences for what they were doing. "We are not criminals," Pazmino said. "That's the thing: it was kind of a game, and we didn't know the rules. No one told us that you could be shot if you went inside a garage, because we don't have that kind of rules in our country."
We are not criminals... It was kind of a game, and we didn't know the rules. No one told us you could be shot...
On the night of the shooting, Pazmino and Dede were hanging out at the home of Dede's host family in the Grant Creek neighborhood. They ate a lot and played ping pong and FIFA soccer games. Pazmino thinks Dede got texts about going to a bonfire, but they never amounted to much because of weather. Pazmino was feeling lazy but Dede encouraged him to go for a walk. According to Pazmino they had no specific plans for their walk. Pazmino recalls they headed up Prospect and Dede briefly pet a cat they encountered. It was dark, so they decided not to continue up Prospect and turned back onto Deer Canyon Road.
Pazmino recalls they were discussing what they would do if they encountered a mountain lion when they noticed the garage door of the Kaarma home was partly open. According to Pazmino, Dede began walking up the driveway. Pazmino called after to see what he was doing, but Dede did not answer and Pazmino did not stop him. Pazmino continued walking, about to the edge of the Kaarma property, and stood in the middle of the street to wait for Dede. He recalls hearing a man's voice angrily yell something to the effect of "I see you there!" Then Pazmino heard shots and began running away. He ran to the end of the cul de sac, then jumped three or four fences to get back to Prospect and to Dede's host family's home. Pazmino's cell phone fell out of his pocket near the end of the cul de sac, but he kept running because he was too afraid to go back for it.
Pazmino described waiting for Dede to return home, then changing his clothes because he had been smoking and was sweaty. When Randy, one of Dede's hosts, came and asked where Diren was, Pazmino told him about the garage. Randy woke Kate, his wife, and they saw cop cars racing down the street. They walked over to Deer Canyon Road together. On the way, an ambulance sped past them. On Deer Canyon, Pazmino explained to an officer that he had been on the street with a friend and asked for him. The officer asked Pazmino to describe what Dede had been wearing, then informed Pazmino that Dede had been taken away in the ambulance.
Pazmino was taken to the station for questioning. He described being very afraid because he had never been questioned before and was unfamiliar with American police procedures. He says that he told some of his story accurately and some not as accurately because he was so scared. He says that police told him they would need to keep his phone for evidence and that wasn't a problem. The phone was returned to him before he left Missoula for his home country on May 4.
During cross-examination from Paul Ryan, Pazmino revealed that he didn't like garage hopping and thought it could be dangerous. He did relay those concerns to Dede, but Diren thought of garage hopping as a game. Pazmino agreed with Ryan that garage hopping is a crime, but stressed that Dede himself had not seen it that way and was unaware that the practice could carry consequences. Pazmino also verified that garage hopping was a widespread practice involving many students, schools, and sports.
Pazmino had earlier testified that Dede was carrying a can of Sprite, Swisher Sweets, a chew can, and his cell phone that night. Ryan asked if Dede was carrying any of those items in his hand when he entered the garage; Pazmino replied that he believed they were all in Dede's sweatshirt pocket. A can of Sprite, a package of Swisher Sweets, and Diren Dede's iPhone were seen on the video tour Detective Mitch Lang took the jury on in court yesterday.
Ryan also questioned Pazmino about his placement when the shooting occurred. In his initial statement to police, Pazmino described himself as being 8-9 meters from the garage. Pazmino read the statement to the jury when prompted, but does not recall saying that.
Asked why he didn't call the police after returning to Dede's home, Pazmino replied that at the time he didn't believe anyone had been shot. In a redirect from prosecution, Pazmino verified for Andrew Paul that at that time he was not in possession of his cell phone to call police anyway because it was lying at the end of Deer Canyon Road where he had dropped it.