tv Dateline MSNBC October 8, 2017 3:00am-4:00am PDT
promise you. and every time we have class, she's dancing. >> that's all for this edition of date line oig. i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. 'm craig. and i'm natalie morales. and this is "dateline." this is "dateline." he was definitely charismatic. >> he was the new kid in town, super popular. all about adventure. >> this kid was like, awesome. >> he just jumped right into the culture. >> kind of liked to show off a little bit to the girls. >> they were neighbors just down the block. a family in fear. >> they had had their vehicles broken into. >> she was scared. >> someone had been sneaking into their home, and now someone was in their garage. >> i'm sitting there panicking. like, he's coming at me. >> in a flash, it was over.
that charismatic kid, dead on the floor. >> it was terrible. i think i screamed for hours. >> what had happened in that garage that night? >> it was just, like, the last person that would come to my mind. >> a neighbor protecting his home, or preparing a trap? >> makes the statement, "it's showtime." >> it's showtime? >> exactly. >> a teenager, a father, a murder. no one would be the same. >> we were all taken aback. welcome to on "dateline." he came to america as an adventurous exchange student, but deren dede took one risk too many, and it cost him his life. was his death a case of someone acting in self-defense, a homeowner protecting his family and property, or something far more deliberate? here's josh mankiewicz with "deadly exchange."
>> reporter: it's a dilemma that confronts every teenager. how to simultaneously fit in with your friends and rebel against everyone else. that two-step is made a little easier by the knowledge, maybe the certainty, that you're going to live forever. >> kids do dumb stuff all the time. >> reporter: and so sneaking out of the house in the dead of night to meet other teenagers to drink, party or just hang out well, that's nothing new. usually teens sneak back home safely. this wasn't one of those times. >> i thought it was some kind of, like, joke. i just couldn't believe it, really. >> i was just freaking out. like, it can't be. it can't be. >> reporter: it was april 2014 when two bright foreign exchange students living in montana, slipped out of their home. >> he's lying face down. he's barely breathing. >> reporter: just minutes later, their amazing american adventure came to a sudden and tragic end.
>> where is he bleeding from? >> everywhere. >> it was horrific. >> no one ever knew that someone would die over it, you know? >> it was just the worst thing that could have ever happened to us. >> reporter: it all began so differently for diren dede. a dream come true. he was an exchange student from hamburg, germany, excited to soak up anything and everything american. at 17 diren had landed in a ial corner of the west, stsp missoula, montana. >> he was really charismatic. >> reporter: dana, anna, and chance were three of diren's closest friends at big sky high school. >> he was way different than all of the other foreign exchange students that usually come. he was really outspoken and outgoing, and he just jumped right into the culture. >> he wanted to do everything there was to do. >> and he was a terrific athlete? >> uh-huh.
>> reporter: it was no coincidence that jay bostrom, the teacher who recruited diren to big sky, also happened to be the school's soccer coach. >> no holds barred. just go get it done. and when diren played, that's how he played. i think the guys were immediately like, this guy is cool. kind of a bad ass, you know. >> he was, like, pretty stocky kid. liked to lay people out. yeah. >> he was tough. >> yeah. >> for sure. he threw down. >> reporter: and according to his friends, diren's soccer skills and his good looks definitely helped him with the opposite sex. >> he was always talking to girls. americans and even girls back home in germany. >> a man of the world. >> exactly. >> yep. >> the other soccer girls always said that he would never miss a chance to take his shirt off when he was running around the field. they knew he was going to put on a show for them. >> reporter: diren lived with host parents randy and kate in the prospect neighborhood, a hilly subdivision of missoula.
>> he was just such a terrific kid. you could see that right off the bat. >> and he called you mom and dad? >> he did. >> he really became our son. there's no doubt about it. >> reporter: but diren was more than just a fun kid. he was engaged in the world. >> this was not your typical american teenager who just kind of wants to talk about, you know, sports stars and, you know, maybe the latest fashion and, you know -- >> no, not at all. >> no. it's like, so what do you think about the situation in the ukraine? >> reporter: by the end of the school year in 2014, diren had a solid circle of friends. he was tightest with another exchange student. this one from ecuador. robby pazmino. >> we had so many things in common. the same personality with the same wishes and dreams. >> they were a package deal. >> you see one, you're gonna see the other? >> oh, yeah. >> reporter: saturday, april 26,
was no different. the boys spent the evening playing video games and listening to music in randy and kate's basement. >> i went down 10:30 or so that night and told them maybe crank the music volume down a little bit. >> reporter: but around midnight, diren was bored, restless and suggested he and robby take a walk. >> and i was kind of, "i'm just really tired, diren." he was like, "come on." and i was like, "okay." >> reporter: so while kate and randy slept upstairs, robby and diren slipped out the back door for a walk around the neighborhood. they headed up the nearby hill and then turned on to deer canyon road. then, robby says diren suddenly walked off in a different direction, and robby lost sight of him. >> i was like, he's not coming. i'll continue walking. >> reporter: robby says he called out to diren, but there was no answer, so he kept walking, figuring diren would catch up. >> that is when, like, i heard someone yelling. "you're there.
i see you there." something like that. after that just the shots, like, three or four shots. and i just started running. >> reporter: gunshots in a quiet residential neighborhood. a now-terrified robby ran back home. >> he was faster than i am. i said, he's probably coming. i was almost sure that he was coming. >> reporter: but diren wouldn't return. and what happened to the german exchange student would simultaneously make headlines around the world and get americans asking, how far can you go to protect your home and family? coming up -- >> 911. what are you reporting? >> a robbery. >> an urgent call to 911. >> somebody entered into our garage. shots were fired. wer back pain't stop him from keeping up.
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josh mankiewicz: sunday morning was less than an hour old when the sound of gunshots ricocheted through the prospect neighborhood of missoula, montana. 911 dispatcher (on phone): 911. want are you reporting? caller: (on phone): um, a robbery. caller: (on phone): ok. and what's going on? caller: (on phone): um, somebody entered into our garage. sunday morning was less than an hour old. >> what are you reporting? >> a robbery. someone entered into our garage.
shots were fired. >> reporter: a robbery was rare in prospect, but a shooting was unheard of. dash cams captured the chaos as first responders raced to the scene. >> stay to the right. >> what's the number? >> stop, stop, stop. >> it was all happening just a few hundred feet from where foreign exchange student diren dede lived with his host family. >> i kind of woke up with a start. heard four loud pops, bang, bang, bang, fairly close together. a pause, and then another bang. >> reporter: randy heard the sirens and got out of bed. >> so i went downstairs, just to make sure i could lay my hands on robby and diren. >> and he came downstairs with me and he's like, where's diren? >> and he said he didn't know. >> he didn't know? >> and i thought that was kind of weird. and i looked in the rec room, and didn't see diren. and i -- so i came back to him and i says, what's going on? where's diren? >> reporter: robby fessed up.
he and diren had sneaked out. he told randy how diren had walked off on his own, and then robby said he'd heard gunshots. alarmed, randy woke up his wife and the three of them went to deer canyon road. >> how far away from your house is this? >> 80 yards, something like that, directly above. it's just the next street above ours. >> so this is a neighbor's house. >> it's a neighbor's house. >> reporter: but when they got there, police stopped them. >> we were just hoping diren would just walk out somewhere, you know, show up and come out the door. >> i walked up to the police officer. gave him a name and description. and that's when she kind of went, well, just wait here for a second. and then came back and said, i think you guys need to go to the hospital. and that it wasn't good. and as soon as she said that, i thought, gosh, we just passed an
ambulance running up there. and he must have been in the ambulance. >> what happened on that quiet street? did diren and robby stumble into a burglary in progress or a violent home invasion? the police asked robby to answer some questions. while kate and randy rushed to the hospital. >> it wasn't long after we got there that the e.r. doc came out and explained that his wounds were fatal, and that he was no longer alive. >> terrible feeling. >> it was horrible. i went outside the hospital many times and just screamed. i -- it was -- we lost our -- our son, too. sorry. when they brought us in to identify his body, it was horrific. looking at his beautiful body, no longer complete, it was
terrible. i think i screamed for hours. >> reporter: diren dede would never make it to his 18th birthday. >> i thought it was a joke. i was, like, there's no way possible. nothing like this has remotely happened to me or kind of anything like in missoula growing up. it was obviously a shock. >> it was just, like, the last person that would come to my mind, i guess. >> reporter: diren's soccer coach assumed that whatever happened to his star player, it wasn't diren's fault. >> i'm trying to imagine, did he go to a party and get shot by another kid? was he downtown missoula and got in a scuffle? i didn't understand it. >> reporter: so what did happen? police on the scene quickly concluded only one person was shot, the intruder mentioned in that 911 call. >> who got shot? >> the robber. he's badly injured. >> okay. so they entered your garage. who shot him? >> my husband.
>> reporter: and cops quickly learned something those who thought they knew diren well could scarcely imagine. diren wasn't a random, innocent victim. he was apparently the opposite, he was the burglar. >> someone is trying to break into your car right now. >> reporter: police were about to hear a story from the man holding the gun that night, a story of terror and a family under siege. >> and we've been sketched out. we don't feel safe. i'm on edge about everything. >> two frightened homeowners victimized two times before. what had happened inside that garage? >> i'm sitting there panicking, you know, like he's coming at me i just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance with geico. huh. i should take a closer look at geico... geico can help with way more than car insurance.
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josh mankiewicz: a high school exchange student from germany had been shot and killed during an apparent burglary >> reporter: a high school exchange student from germany had been shot and killed during an apparent burglary inside a neighbor's garage in the quiet town of missoula, montana. now diren dede was dead, and police were investigating. >> does that happen a lot here, people shoot burglars who are in their homes? >> no, it doesn't. >> reporter: missoula police department detective guy baker had the case. soon he was interviewing the man who'd pulled the trigger. >> hi, markus. >> hello, sir. >> i'm guy baker. i'm a detective. >> reporter: the homeowner was
markus kaarma. kaarma and his common law wife, janelle pflaeger, had just moved to missoula. they were looking for a quiet, safe and kid-friendly place to raise their child. police spoke with janelle at the scene and recorded their talk with kaarma at the station. >> so what we want to talk about is what happened tonight at your house. >> reporter: the couple told investigators the story actually began with a burglary three weeks earlier. and then just ten days after that, the burglars returned. >> somebody had trespassed in their vehicles and in their garage, which was unlocked. >> reporter: cash, credit cards and a cell phone were taken. the couple filed a police report, but the burglaries remained unsolved. now markus kaarma said he feared they were being targeted. >> we've pretty much been living in fear and it sucks. and to know that we're being watched and targeted and knowing
how hard it is for you guys to actually catch a burglar with no evidence. >> reporter: kaarma said they no longer felt safe in their own home and were terrified they'd be robbed again. >> and we've been sketched out. we don't feel safe. i'm on edge about everything. >> reporter: the couple even e-mailed their neighbors to warn them about the string of burglaries and suggest everyone lock their cars and garages. >> having somebody burglarize you is a terrible feeling. and it does leave people feeling violated and angry. >> yes, i would agree. >> so that's not uncommon for people to be upset and extremely vigilant after a burglary? >> i would agree. it's not. >> reporter: the more time that passed with the burglars at large, the more fearful markus and janelle said they became. in part because he was a seasonal firefighter and would have to travel for work soon, leaving mother and child alone for months.
>> she was scared that markus was gonna be going off on a seasonal employment here soon. >> reporter: so kaarma told police his wife decided to put together a homemade security system that would warn them if another intruder showed up. >> she's got motion sensor one, motion sensor two. >> she had placed a baby monitor on the east wall of the garage. >> a video baby monitor? >> once the alert sounded due to the motion detector, then they uld sewhat the baby monitor could see. >> reporter: all of that was connected through a smartphone app so when the motion sensors were triggered, an alert would allow them to view live video of their garage. that saturday night, kaarma said they were trying to relax after putting their son to bed. >> i had recorded the movie "lincoln." we were watching that. about a third of the way through that, not sure what the time was, it was dark outside, but, you know, we went outside and had a smoke in the garage like we always do.
we usually leave the garage door open to air it out. >> reporter: but five minutes later, an alert from the motion sensors. someone was in the driveway. an intruder. perhaps the same one who'd targeted them before. these photos are from the home security system. that's diren entering the garage. markus kaarma says he grabbed a loaded shotgun he had for protection. >> i'm sitting there with the shotgun in my hand and staring at the lock on the front door. and i can't tell if it's locked or unlocked. and i'm starting to shake at that point, you know. the adrenaline's coming, like, oh, my god, these guys actually came back to the house. >> reporter: kaarma said his wife stayed back, while he went out the front door and turned toward the garage. >> a few quick steps around my front. and you saw where my truck was parked, pretty much with my butt touching my grill guard. that's where i stood. and then she flipped on the light.
>> reporter: kaarma told the detectives he was blinded by the sudden light and realized the only one way for the intruder to get away was to go past him. then -- >> i heard something move, like, a piece of metal hit the cement. either that or a piece of metal hit a piece of metal. it sounded like either a metal wrench being picked up or maybe the axes. >> reporter: so markus kaarma says he did the only thing he could to protect himself. >> immediately i fired high up into the right corner of the garage. here i am looking at my garage. i think in total four rounds were shot. all directly, one, two, three, four. >> if i live in montana, what right do i have to shoot someone who has entered my house? >> you have the right to use any force necessary in defense of yourself, but no greater force. >> okay. but, i mean, this was a burglar who had broken in. you don't know who he is.
you know it's somebody that you don't know. and they have crossed that invisible line from outdoors to indoors. and they are, by that definition alone, i would say, a threat to me. >> well, you've got to be able to articulate the threat. >> reporter: and kaarma told investigs there was a real threat. the garage was full of tools the intruder could grab and use against him. >> i imagined an ax flying through the air and hitting me in the skull. >> reporter: and kaarma said he was positive he heard that scraping sound just moments before he fired the shotgun. >> i'm describing the sound when i say it hit -- >> okay. >> but what i'm picturing in my head is i'm going to die. >> reporter: to hear markus kaarma tell it, he'd faced down a threat. it was kill or be killed. and that was justifiable homicide. the young soccer star who was by now in the morgue must have had a darker side that many didn't see.
detectives decided to dig deeper into the lives of both diren dede and the man who shot him. what they learned would only deepen this mystery. coming up -- >> true or false. diren was committing a crime. >> he was. >> but was diren the only one breaking the law? >> he said, showtime. >> he said janelle makes the statement, "it's showtime." >> exactly. >> there would be anger and astonishment on both sides. americans,
mississippi even the rainfall is over with in most areas. heavier rains are over montgomery and up to birmingham, winds in the 20 to 30 on miles per hour. so not much more wind damage out there, the biggest concern is any tornadoes during the day. you're watching msnbc. welcome back. homeowner markus kaarma told police he was living in a state of fear, but his answers raised more questions. what really happened in that garage and what was diren dede doing there in the first place. to find out more, they needed to learn more about the german exchange student. here is josh mankiewicz with "deadly exchange." >> reporter: when he was killed in a neighbor's garage, exchange student diren dede was just two months away from returning to his family in germany. the man who shot him said he feared for his life. and from diren's best friend,
robby, police learned the teen did enter the garage to steal. as robby described it, diren was not the first kid in missoula to go sneaking into unlocked garages. he said the kids weren't after money, credit cards or valuables. this stunt happened often enough that it had a name, garage hopping. and the target was usually beer. >> the reason for garage hopping, or garage shopping, i've heard it called both, was for kids to go in and look for alcoholic beverages that they could easily get and take. >> until this shooting, that sort of wasn't on anybody's radar in law enforcement? >> no. i had not heard of garage hopping. no. >> reporter: these three friends of diren's say they've never gone garage hopping, but they know all about it. you all know people who do it or have done it? >> yeah. >> right? they understand it's illegal? >> uh-huh. >> yeah. >> but it seemed harmless? >> yeah. exactly. i mean, it's just -- it's like, hey, dude, this is a way for you to get some extra beer, you know, on a saturday night.
>> i mean, did you think to yourself, oh, my god, we didn't tell him how dangerous it could be. >> but no one knew. no one would be like, hey, don't walk into that garage. you never know if someone is going to shoot you. >> reporter: robby told police diren had done it before but never taken cash or valuable property. >> he wasn't a criminal. he was, like, a kid. he was a kid trying to have fun and fit in the group doing what the other guys do, trying to be part of them. >> reporter: was it really that innocent? >> true or false. diren was committing a crime. >> he was. >> entering somebody else's home, even their garage, that's a crime? >> yes. >> even if the door's open? >> yep. >> reporter: and if kaarma's life was threatened, he had the right to shoot, didn't he? but as police went over kaarma's story about what happened just before the confrontation, something stood out.
when kaarma was describing how his wife first noticed someone was approaching their garage. >> she's like, showtime. she's like, i see something. a flashlight. >> he said janelle makes the statement, it's show time. >> it's show time? >> exactly. >> suggesting what? they'd been getting ready for this all night? >> that seemed like a very interesting statement to me. it's show time. >> reporter: it didn't seem to fit with someone claiming to be terrified in his own home. then kaarma told police he took his time going out to confront the intruder. >> i stood up off the couch and just kind of slowly walked over towards the front door. and then she's like, hold on. hold on. >> reporter: all of which might make you wonder. with all of that time to think, why not just stay inside, lock the doors and call police? >> i think the easiest thing that could have been done is once they were aware someone was outside, being alerted by the tones on their phone, to call 911.
>> reporter: and while kaarma said he feared for his life, police found no weapon, no ax or tool near diren's body. the teenager was unarmed. and another red flag. kaarma said he couldn't see into the garage. but cops talked to the doctors who treated diren, and they examined the shotgun pellet patterns on the garage wall. >> he says he can't see anything. yet he's able to track a moving person in the garage and hits him two out of four times. >> one, two, three, four. >> i didn't believe he was just randomly shooting from right to left. >> and so you're thinking to yourself, this does not look like a justifiable shooting? >> no. at this point, it's -- it's looking like we have a deliberate homicide. >> reporter: the county attorney's office agreed. detective baker delivered the news. >> so we just talked to a prosecutor. she wants you to be taken into custody. so that's what's going to happen. >> for what? >> for homicide. >> what?
>> reporter: seemingly stunned, kaarma borrowed the detective's phone to call janelle. >> babe. >> hi. >> being charged with murder. >> you're joking. >> no. how is that deliberate homicide? >> it's just the way the statute reads. >> he was pretty surprised. >> yeah. he was surprised. and he was very emotional at that point. that's the most i saw markus be emotional during this whole investigation. >> reporter: diren's host parents had a tangle of emotions as they processed what police said had happened. >> not the kid we knew. wouldn't expect that. >> reporter: they were disappointed with diren's actions, but livid with kaarma's. >> i just got more angry and more angry that that happened. i mean, who thinks like that? >> just the -- why? it was the why at that point, you know. why would someone feel compelled to do this?
>> markus kaarma faces a deliberate homicide charge for killing a 17-year-old german exchange student. >> reporter: many were outraged that a homeowner could be arrested for defending his family and property. catherine hockey is a reporter at the local "missoulian." >> people were like, of course i can shoot someone in my home. and that was definitely in the very beginning of the case. i received a lot of angry phone calls from people. a lot of people were afraid that this would intrude on their own rights to protect their home with a gun and their own gun rights. >> reporter: the german press also followed the story closely. their take echoed the thoughts of many in this country, that diren was the victim of an american cowboy culture that glorifies gun violence. >> and they were really incredulous that somebody could just shoot somebody for coming into their house. they just didn't understand how that worked in montana.
>> reporter: but this is america, not germany. aren't you allowed to protect yourself, your home, your family? was even that on trial now? dogma and kaarma were about to collide. coming up -- >> battle lines are drawn. and a revealing recording. >> and then i heard the kid yelling, no, no, no, no. please. >> did diren plead for his life? when "dateline" continues. t ins. plus, when you get a flu shot at walgreens, you help provide a lifesaving vaccine to a c i prode a lifesad through the un foundation. it's that easy to get your flu shot and make a difference. so swing by your local walgreens today. walgreens. at the corner of happy & healthy.
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diren dede's death, markus kaarma went on trial for his murder. seeking justice for their son, diren's parents traveled from germany to a montana courtroom, where they were befriended by the same group of kids who had loved their boy. >> a lot of us got the chance to meet his parents when they came for it. and they were really, really awesome. they were a lot like diren. >> reporter: his parents watched as the man who shot their son faced the charge of deliberate homicide. to kaarma's defense team, led by attorney paul ryan, that was outright excessive. >> here was a man who was fearful. >> reporter: ryan laid out a basic narrative. markus kaarma, twice a victim of burglars, reasonably thought that diren dede was another one and dangerous. >> he thought that he was dealing with drug-seeking type individuals that were erratic and who knows what they -- how they were gonna respond. >> reporter: he told the jury that his client had reason to believe diren dede was armed and
ready to attack. >> and because he felt his life was threatened by the movement, specifically, of mr. dede, he had to take the steps, unfortunately, to take his life. >> the danger of a burglar is when there's a confrontation, and they all want to escape, and they'll do whatever they can to get away. >> reporter: the defense said there was no debate over one central fact. diren dede went into that garage to steal. and on the stand, kaarma's lawyer got diren's friend robby to admit that despite warnings, diren didn't see much wrong with garage hopping. >> i think diren never felt like it was a crime. >> but were warning him. you were telling him it wasn't right. it was reckless. it was dangerous, right? >> yeah. yeah. like, i understand on this way. but he maybe didn't understand. >> reporter: in fact, the defense suggested that diren was part of a local burglary ring that was stealing more than just beer and may have been behind
the previous break-ins at the kaarma house. >> they all knew each other. they all went to big sky. >> reporter: defense attorney ryan argued the police never really investigated those burglaries at kaarma's house. and with no arrests, his client was left in a fearful, agitated state. a psychiatrist who examined kaarma diagnosed it as high-magnitude stress. >> your body changes dramatically as far as how you're reacting to things. fight or flight. and while some people may have retreated or called the police or whatever, he came forward and confronted the individual. >> he can't control it. his body went into fight mode. >> reporter: the defense said kaarma felt threatened in his home and was within his legal rights to shoot under something called the castle doctrine. >> the legislature has made decisions that it should be easier to protect yourself within your house. you may or may not like the castle doctrine. i never asked you to like the law, and the judge doesn't either, but he says you have to
follow the law. >> reporter: defense attorney ryan insisted that markus karma was guilty of nothing more than protecting his family. >> this is your house. you defend it within your house as you choose to defend it. >> reporter: by the time the defense rested, those closest to diren dede thought that markus kaarma's lawyers had redefined what this case was about. >> who diren was kind of got lost in all of this, didn't it? >> uh-huh. >> a lot of the stuff that i heard and read made him sound like some sort of foreigner who just came here to stir the pot and make trouble. >> and commit crimes? >> right. yeah. >> reporter: but to prosecutors andrew paul and jennifer clark, the real criminal in this case was markus kaarma, who was, plain and simple, a murderer. >> the fact is that the defendant was angry and vengeful. he knew that it was a kid coming in his garage. he has his 12-gauge in his hand, and he waits.
>> reporter: to counter the defense's suggestion that diren was part of some ring of thieves targeting markus kaarma, investigators tracked down the teens who had hit kaarma's garage, the ones who took the cash, credit cards and -- >> he had a bong and a jar of weed and some alcohol. >> did you know a man named diren dede? >> not personally, no. >> to the best of your knowledge, was he involved in a burglary ring? >> no. >> reporter: so did kaarma really fear for his life that night? prosecutors said ballistics told the story. the first shot to hit diren was to the back of his lefarm, meaning he couldn't have been charging toward markus kaarma. >> and then he's gotta do it one more time. he's got to make that final blow. >> reporter: and the final shot was straight to the head. but prosecutors weren't done. they had what they thought was explosive evidence.
just before the trial began, a recording surfaced made the night of the shooting from a conversation an officer at the scene had with janelle. in it she reveals that just before the final shot, she heard diren beg for his life. >> and then i heard the kid yelling, no, no, no, no, please. and then -- but by then, there was already a shot fired. >> reporter: and the prosecution said that after the shooting, kaarma sounded like a man who was proud of himself. >> there's an article online already, and the comments are all in your favor. >> what? really? >> reporter: this is a jailhouse phone call between kaarma and his wife talking about the news coverage. >> why is he being charged? this is bull [ bleep ]. >> yes! >> why has he been arrested? >> hey, tomorrow morning will you, uh, buy a hundred copies or something of the paper? >> what did you say, hon? >> dvr, um, record the local
news tonight on tv and, uh, keep the newspapers from tomorrow. >> and he seemed to be very proud of that fact, versus remorseful. >> reporter: but was this premeditated murder? the only other witness to the shooting was about to tell her story. coming up -- a purse left as bait? >> the purse was for them to take. >> and one more revelation. >> he said he had been sitting up for three nights with a shotgun. >> a hairstylist is about to provide the most hair-raising testimony of all. think your heartburn pill works fast? take the zantac it challenge! zantac works in as little as 30 minutes. nexium can take 24 hours. when heartburn strikes, take zantac for faster relief than nexium or your money back. take the zantac it challenge.
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teline." [ sighs ] markus kaarma's defense had tried to paint a picture of a man exercising his rights when welcome back to "dateline." markus kaarma's defense tried to paint a picture of a man exercising his rights when he shot an unarmed teenager. now, it was the prosecution's turn to convince the jury that he was a man bent on revenge. and they had witnesses who they thought could show his actions in a whole new light. here's josh mankiewicz with the conclusion of "deadly exchange." >> reporter: markus kaarma was on trial for killing an unarmed teenager in his garage. the prosecution was about to argue that not only was the shooting unjustified, it was planned, premeditated murder. to prove it, they put the defendant's wife, janelle pflager, on the stand as a reluctant key witness. she told the jury the same thing she and the defendant had said all along.
they were living in fear of intruders. >> literally every day i was like a paranoid person. i was looking over my shoulder all the time and very worried all the time. >> reporter: so then, why did they leave their garage door wide open on the day of the shooting? especially after they'd warned their neighbors to keep their garages locked? janelle said they smoked cigarettes in the garage, and wanted to air it out. >> i believe that it would be my right to have my garage door open to air out for a few minutes at a time especially when i'm there. >> the prosecution argued that janelle and her husband left the garage door open on purpose because they were setting a trap. janelle denied it but admitted, she deliberately left a purse in the garage with items in it that could be traced back to her. the prosecution said that was bait. >> you wanted to catch him. that's why you got the purse.
>> the purse was for them to take so they didn't come into the house and so that when i called the police and i say here is something traceable. >> so an open door, and a purse in plain sight. the prosecutor said janelle and her husband set the stage, then waited and watched. so when diren walked in, they weren't scared, they were excited. >> she's like, show time. >> on the stand, janelle denied saying those words. >> do you remember saying, "showtime," when you saw somebody outside? >> no, i don't remember saying that. it's not usually a common phrase that i use. >> in court, janelle also changed her story about what she heard in the garage that night, now denying that diren had been pleading for his life. >> then i heard the kid yelling, "no, no, no, no, no! please!" >> my question was, your testimony here today is that you never heard him say a word.
>> right. >> i sort of get the feeling janelle didn't do you a lot of favors on the witness stand. >> no, she didn't. >> she, you know, denied saying something that could be played on tape. >> right. yeah, janelle talks a lot. and you know, as a defense attorney, that often doesn't work out very well. >> janelle was never charged in the case. why wasn't janelle charged in this? prk >> in her statement to the officers, she wanted to catch the burglars. she wanted to identify them. >> prosecutors say they had no evidence that janelle knew her husband was going to harm someone. so what exactly was markus kaarma thinking? prosecutors brought in two witnesses to support the argument that the shooting was nothing short of a planned execution. >> he said he'd been sitting up for three nights with a shotgun, waiting to kill some [ bleep ] kids. >> she works in the salon where markus karma got his hair cut just days before the shooting. the woman said kaarma came in ranting about his recent burglaries, and his chilling
plan to fix them. >> i did say to him oh, my gosh, you know, have you called the police? and he says the [ bleep ] police will not do anything about it. and then he had mentioned that he wouldn't mind if a couple did come by because he wouldn't mind shooting a couple of them, also. >> her co-worker told the jury she heard it, too. >> he was going to kill them. take care of it. >> did he use those words, "take care of it"? >> i think it was, "fix it." >> okay. do you recall him saying anything else? >> he said, "i'm not kidding. you will seriously see this on the news." >> say that one more time. >> "i'm not kidding. you're seriously going to see this on the news." >> it's intent to kill, right? he's announcing it. >> he's lying in wait. >> and he's telling them, "you wait and see, you're going to see this on the news." >> that's a defense attorney's nightmare, is testimony that your client told somebody else, "i'm going to commit this crime," and then they're later
charged with that crime. >> correct. >> as the trial came to an end, diren's friends gathered to support his visiting parents. >> there was a huge group of kids who went to the closing statements. so we went to support them on those last days. we filled up the stands with -- or the -- the seats with i don't know how many kids. >> a tree in front of our house became, essentially, the memorial for -- for diren. and more and more things showed up that -- so we felt more and more loved by missoula than we probably ever have. you know, just because they were ying to show support for us. >> but jurors had to consider the law and nothing else. here's how the prosecution laid it out. >> the issue in this case, what the defendant believed at the time he shot and killed diren dede. was that belief reasonable? and was the deadly force used necessary? that's your issue. >> jurors went to deliberate. and after eight hours over two
days, they returned to court. >> we the jury, all of our number, find the defendant, markus hendrik kaarma, guilty. >> the courtroom erupted in applause and tears. and while they say the verdict was a relief, diren's host parents still feel the raw pain of his death. >> nothing brings diren back. and so it's still -- it's just heartbreaking that someone felt compelled to do this. >> would you be host to another foreign exchange student? >> no. my -- my heart's too broken. i couldn't do it. >> two months after the verdict, markus kaarma addressed diren dede's family at the sentencing hearing. >> i took another man's life and i'm sorry, i can't change that. i did what i felt was necessary to protect my family and myself. and i hope that no one ever finds themself in the position that i was put into.
>> the judge sentenced him to 70 years in prison. >> i almost wish he never said sorry. because it was so empty and his face had just no expression. it was, like, scary almost. we were all like taken aback. i was like take it back. like, there was -- there was no meaning in that. >> and they say garage hopping is no longer popular. have attitudes changed about all of that since then? >> of course. >> yeah. i haven't heard a thing about it since. >> it's unheard of. >> now it is? >> yeah. >> reporter: diren's friends hope that people will forget the one deadly mistake diren made, and remember the bright, charming guy they loved. you know, you're all pretty young to have to go through this. you feel like this has changed you? >> yeah. >> one hundred percent. yeah, every day you wake up, you think, obviously, something like that could happen and you need to, like, do things that matter.
>> life seem a little more precious now? >> uh-huh. >> he's encouraging us to do a lot of things. and i think he's still pushing us. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. good morning, everyone, i'm dara brown at msnbc world headquarters in new york. 7:00 a.m. in the east, 4:00 a.m. in the west. nate downgraded. daylight soon in the southeast where the full effect of the latest storm has yet to be realized. the latest on flooding, power outages, and where it's headed next. >> clarify the calm before the storm comments? >> nothing, nothing to clarify. >> still waiting. the president with no clear answer on what he meant by those words, and now a new tweet on north korea that's also unclear. plus, in a new interview the president reacts to critics of
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