Attorneys seek new trial in German exchange student's death

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MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Attorneys for a Montana man convicted of killing a German exchange student who had broken into his garage have filed a motion seeking a new trial or conviction on a lesser offense.

Defense attorneys continue to argue that Markus Kaarma could not receive a fair trial in Missoula County because "prejudicial, inflammatory media coverage so saturated the community that an impartial jury could not be drawn and a fair trial conducted" in the April 2014 shooting death of Diren Dede, 17.

The motion argues that hundreds of news stories published between the shooting and the trial had "effectively displaced the judicial process and dictated the community's opinion as to (Kaarma's) guilt or innocence."

Alternatively, the motion filed late last week suggests the court amend the deliberate homicide verdict to one for mitigated deliberate homicide. It argues that Kaarma "was under extreme mental and emotional stress due to two recent burglaries" and that in the interest of justice the verdict should be modified.

Defense attorneys argued at trial that Kaarma had the legal right to use deadly force to protect his property and family from intruders. The motion argues that jurors were improperly instructed on when the use of force against an intruder can be justified.

Kaarma remains jailed in Missoula pending his Feb. 12 sentencing. He currently faces a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The District Court twice denied defense motions for a change of venue before the trial was held.

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