The Slatest

Montana Man Sentenced to 70 Years in Prison for Fatally Shooting Unarmed Exchange Student

A tribute to Diren Dede in Hamburg, Germany.

Photo by Oliver Hardt/Getty Images

A Montana man who shot and killed an unarmed exchange student was sentenced on Thursday to 70 years in prison. Markus Kaarma claimed he was acting in self-defense and protecting his property when he shot the 17-year-old exchange student, Diren Dede, with a 12-gauge shotgun. At trial Kaarma defended his actions as lawful under the state’s “stand your ground” law.

The jury didn’t buy it and for good reason. Here’s more on the shooting from the Associated Press:

At trial, prosecutors argued Kaarma was intent on luring an intruder into his garage after it was burglarized at least once before the shooting. Three witnesses testified they heard Kaarma say he’d been waiting up nights to shoot an intruder. The night of the shooting, Kaarma left his garage door partially open and placed a purse inside. Alerted by a motion detector, he entered the darkened garage and fired four shotgun blasts, pausing between the third and fourth shots, witnesses testified. Lead detective Guy Baker testified that the first three shots were low and seemed to follow Dede as he moved across Kaarma’s garage. The fourth shot was aimed higher and struck Dede in the head, Baker said. Dede, an exchange student at Missoula’s Big Sky High School, was unarmed.

The jury convicted Kaarma in December, and he faced up to 100 years for the crime. “Here you have a 12-gauge shotgun, not to protect your family but to go after someone. And go after someone you did,” District Judge Ed McLean said during the sentencing. “You pose too great a risk to society to be anywhere else but the Montana State Prison.”