Neighbor Told Janelle Pflager About Stand Your Ground Defense Days Before Shooting
The man who lived next door to Markus Kaarma and Janelle Pflager on the night of the shooting testified that Janelle Pflager asked him about Montana gun laws on or about April 22, leading to a brief discussion of the Stand Your Ground defense. Five days later, Markus Kaarma fatally shot German exchange student Diren Dede, who was trespassing in his garage.
Knowledge of the Stand Your Ground defense, in which a person is granted the right to use force (including lethal force) if they believe they are being threatened with bodily harm or death, is crucial to the State's assertion that Kaarma deliberately baited burglars to return to his home. Kaarma's garage had been the scene of at least two prior burglaries. Kaarma and his common-law wife, Janelle Pflager, were dissatisfied with the police department's attempts to catch the people responsible.
Mr. Frellick, a retired highway patrolmen, lived next door to the Kaarmas when the burglaries took place (he and his wife have since moved away). He recalled having a conversation with neighbor Nicole Ebner in the street on about April 22 when Janelle Pflager approached. She began talking to Ebner and referenced the burglaries at her home and how frustrated she and Kaarma were. Frellick asked for details and offered to help, given his law enforcement background.
Frellick told Pflager about the security cameras on the Wozniak's property and said there might be evidence on those cameras, but doesn't know if Pflager followed up with the Wozniaks. He recommended that Pflager shut her doors to secure her home. He also offered to call a friend who is still on the force, but was unable to get through.
At that point, Frellick claims Pflager asked him about Montana gun laws. Frellick asked for clarification, asking if she was meant like Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' law, and Pflager said yes. Frellick says he told Pflager that Montana had adopted its own form of Stand Your Ground and cited a Corvallis case as an example. In that case, a man was not charged after fatally shooting another man who had confronted him in his home. Frellick does not recall mentioning Castle Doctrine during the conversation (Castle Doctrine specifically identifies the home as a place where the homeowner has certain protections or immunities from prosecution when confronted by an intruder), but pointed out that Castle doctrine usually comes up alongside Stand Your Ground in a simple Google search. Frellick also added that he remembers being "very distinct" that the Corvallis man had been confronted within his home. Frellick was unaware at the time that Pflager had job training that would have given her familiarity with criminology.
Asked about how the Kaarmas fit into the tightly-knit neighborhood, Frellick admits neighbors weren't so sure about them. He says there was speculation about how they could afford to live in the neighborhood without any visible means of employment. However, Frellick denied that neighbors actively excluded the Kaarmas or made plans to get them out of the neighborhood, adding that he would have refused to participate in any behavior like that, and added that his home had already been on the market when the shooting took place.