State Prosecutors Reflect on Kaarma Trial – Prepare For Sentencing [YouTube]
One day after Markus Kaarma was found guilty of deliberate homicide for the shotgun slaying of 17 year-old German exchange student Diren Dede, two of the prosecutors in the case, Andrew Paul and Jennifer Clark spoke with KGVO News.
One of the questions often asked during the trial was why the state chose to charge Kaarma with deliberate homicide, and not include any lesser offenses, such as mitigated deliberate homicide, negligent homicide, or even manslaughter. Paul said the nature of the crime dictated the specific charges.
"We felt like the evidence supported a deliberate homicide charge," Paul said. "To say that it was mitigated or even negligent homicide would not have done service to the facts in the case. The fact was he was shot twice, once in the arm and then the defendant shot two more times, adjusted his stance and had to adjust his aim and then shot him right in the face. That's deliberate homicide."
Another question was why Janelle Pflager was not charged with any crime in the case, since she seemed to be a willing participant in preparing the garage on that fateful night.
"In her statements Ms. Pflager said many times, 'I can't believe he pulled the trigger', or 'I can't believe he actually shot someone', " Paul said. "She wanted Kaarma to use a baseball bat. She said 'let's be reasonable and use a baseball bat, and lets just catch him'. It would be hard for us to charge her with accountability for deliberate homicide, because there was just no proof."
Jennifer Clark handled a question about a possible appeal that Kaarma's attorney Paul Ryan spoke of immediately after the verdict that dealt primarily with the failure of Judge Ed McLean to grant a change of venue due to the amount of media coverage before the trial.
"As far as the change of venue, I think we sent out a questionnaire early on to the potential jurors that helped to narrow down that jury pool," Clark said. "It's one of the first jury trials I've been in where we went through all those questionnaires and a lot of those people were agreed upon by both the prosecution and the defense to be excused. So, when we finally got down to the actual pool that came in, we had a very impartial pool to select from."
The sentencing phase of the case will begin soon with the filing of various reports to the judge.
"Between now and February 12th, a probation officer will conduct a pre-sentence investigation and will write a report to present to the judge," Paul said. "The report will go through his criminal history, family history, financial history, everything. Then he will present that to the judge and make a recommendation for sentencing. At the sentencing hearing, we will be responsible for making a recommendation for sentencing to the judge."
Asked if he had already determined a sentence recommendation, Paul said. "It's too soon to say."
Paul said during the hearing on Thursday morning, Mr. and Mrs. Dede expressed gratitude to the people of Missoula for their support to their family before and during the trial.