MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Jury selection began Monday and will continue Tuesday in the trial of a Montana man charged with fatally shooting a German exchange student who broke into his garage.
The case against Markus Kaarma centers on whether he justifiably feared another home invasion because his Missoula residence was burglarized twice before. He is charged with deliberate homicide in the April 27 death of Diren Dede, 17, of Hamburg.
Defense attorneys argue Kaarma was protecting his home and family, while prosecutors argue Kaarma deliberately tried to lure the victim into his dark garage by leaving out a purse and keeping the garage door partially open.
Dede's parents, Celal and Gulcin Dede, were in the courtroom Monday, and his mother wore a T-shirt bearing his photo.
The court called 120 potential jurors. Attorneys will continue to narrow the list until 12 jurors plus alternates have been selected.
Several potential jurors were dismissed due to physical ailments and work conflicts while two others were excused after saying they had been the victim of a theft and couldn't remain impartial, the Missoulian reported. Many of the questions posed to potential jurors revolved around theft, self-defense and fear.
Prosecutors say Kaarma was watching a video monitor and saw a dark figure in his garage the night of the shooting. They say he grabbed his shotgun, went outside and fired four shots in the dark in the direction of the partially open garage door.
Dede was struck in the head and arm and died at a Missoula hospital, court records said.
Opening arguments are scheduled for Thursday morning and District Judge Ed McLean has scheduled the trial through Dec. 19.
German prosecutors said in May that they planned to open their own investigation. German law allows them to prosecute offenses committed against German citizens on foreign soil, they said.