Defense disputes detective in German student case

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MISSOULA, Montana (AP) — An expert in police practices called by lawyers for a Montana man on trial for killing a German exchange student said detectives missed critical things when investigating.

Ron Martinelli testified Friday that there weren't enough officers involved in the investigation, they didn't document the scene well enough and they didn't follow up in a timely enough manner.

Martinelli was the defense team's first witness called as they argue Montana law allowed Markus Kaarma to use deadly force to protect his family and property when he fatally shot 17-year-old Diren Dede in Kaarma's garage April 27.

Prosecutors argue that after a previous burglary, Kaarma was intent on harming an intruder and baited one by leaving the garage door open with a purse inside before he shot Dede.

Earlier, lawyer for Kaarma challenged the credentials of a police officer whose prosecution testimony suggested the man may have hunted down the teenager.

Missoula police Detective Guy Baker had testified that blood evidence suggested Dede had been wounded and was standing when Kaarma fired a fatal gunshot to the head.

Defense attorney Lisa Kauffman contended that Detective Baker, the last prosecution witness, used no science in coming to his conclusions.

"They were based on common sense and the total investigation of what went on in the garage," Baker replied.

Witnesses have testified that Kaarma fired four gunshots that early morning of April 27, pausing between the third and final shot. Baker testified that based on blood stains at the scene and other evidence, it appeared Dede had been wounded in the arm, hid behind a car, then stood and was fatally shot.

"It indicates to me that at some point Diren stood up facing Kaarma, and he was then shot in the head," Baker said.

Former exchange student Robby Pazmino, 19, of Quito, Ecuador, testified Tuesday that he and Dede had engaged in "garage-hopping," or sneaking into people's garages, up to five times before the shooting. He said Dede went into Kaarma's garage that night but didn't tell him why.

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