Lawyer: Teen slain in Montana was 'garage hopping'

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The attorney for a Montana man charged in the death of a 17-year-old German exchange student says the teen and a companion had broken into homeowners' garages three of four times before the shooting.

Paul Ryan represents Markus Kaarma, who is charged with deliberate homicide in the April 27 slaying of Diren Dede (DEH'ren DEE'dee) in Missoula.

Prosecutors allege Kaarma shot blindly into his garage, hitting Dede, after sensors and a video monitor alerted him to an intruder.

Ryan tells the Missoulian (http://bit.ly/1jakelv ) Dede's companion that night was an exchange student who has returned home to Ecuador. He did not release the student's name.

Ryan says the Ecuadorian student told police the boys started "garage hopping" after learning about the practice from other students at their high school.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Authorities are looking into whether marijuana or alcohol played a role in the case of a Montana homeowner accused of setting a trap and killing a German exchange student in his garage.

A newly published court document reveals Missoula police received a judge's permission to test whether the homeowner was drunk or high when he shot and killed 17-year-old Diren Dede.

Officers found a jar of pot in Markus Kaarma's home the day he shot Dede, a police statement accompanying an April 28 request for a search warrant said. Kaarma also might have had marijuana stolen from his garage in a previous burglary, the document said.

Police believe Kaarma "may have been impaired by alcohol, dangerous drugs, other drugs, intoxicating substances or a combination of the above, at the time of the incident," the statement from Detective Dean Chrestenson said.

District Judge Karen Townsend granted the warrant to draw Kaarma's blood to test whether any traces of intoxicants remained.

Kaarma's attorney, Paul Ryan, did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday. Ryan has said Kaarma plans to cite Montana's self-defense laws in pleading not guilty to the charge.

Kaarma, 29, is charged with deliberate homicide in the April 27 slaying of Dede, who is from Hamburg. Prosecutors allege Kaarma and his live-in girlfriend set up sensors and a video monitor, then left their garage door open the night of the shooting in Missoula.

Kaarma had been burgled twice before, and he told his hairdresser that he had stayed up for three nights waiting to shoot some kid, prosecutors said.

The search-warrant request says Kaarma's girlfriend, Janelle Pflager, told a neighbor that someone had taken all the marijuana and pot pipes out of the garage in a previous burglary.

Pflager also told the neighbor her husband smokes marijuana in the garage, and police found a glass jar of marijuana in his pantry the day of the shooting, the search warrant said.

The night of the shooting, Kaarma and Pflager heard the sensors trip and saw a figure in the garage on the video monitor, prosecutors said. Kaarma took a shotgun out the front door and fired four shots into the dark garage, hitting Dede.

The boy was unarmed, and authorities have declined to say what he was doing in the garage.

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