Kaarma Attorneys File Briefs In Reply to State’s Response to Defendant’s Motion For New Trial – Cite Violence Aimed at Law Office and Death Threat To Defendant [DOCUMENT]
Attorneys for convicted murderer Markus Kaarma filed a brief in Missoula District Court on Friday, replying to the State's response to their request for a new trial for their client.
The affidavit states 'Defendant received death threats; F***k You Ass***** was painted on the outside of defense counsel's building; Defense attorney Paul Ryan had to call police when he discovered someone shot a window in his home. The round was large enough to put a hole in his window; Since conclusion of the trial, three of the defendant's attorneys have received harassing voice-mails from anonymous members of the community.'
The brief goes on to state that the anti-defendant atmosphere created by the media was so pervasive, that even though the defendant was free on bail before and during the trial, he and his family were virtual prisoners in their own home.
'His entire neighborhood was filled with memorials for the decedent with German flags attached to homes and mailboxes. There is no way to properly catalog the breadth of ant-defendant community sentiment, however, the State does not point to a single article where where community members came out in support of Defendant, as many did for Decedent, his family and the State.'
The brief also addresses publication of certain information they deemed highly prejudicial.
"Publication of Defendant's criminal history and the 'road rage' incidents was undeniably prejudicial. The court expressly ordered that this evidence was not admissible at trial. The State cites no basis for arguing that it was not inflammatory publicity."
The brief closes by stating "Defendant had a constitutional right to a fair trial and impartial jury. In this case, prejudice should be presumed. The State failed to address how the media coverage cited by Defendant was not inflammatory or prejudicial. Likewise, the extensive and sensational nature of the media coverage warrants a finding that there was a high likelihood that the publicity displaced the jurors' role in the trial process. Defense respectfully maintains that His motion should be granted in the interest of justice."
Kaarma was found guilty on December 17 of deliberate homicide in the shooting death of German exchange student Diren Dede, 17, on April 27, 2014.
In January, Kaarma's attorneys filed their motion for a new trial.
The affidavit filed with the court states that a new trial is requested ‘in the interest of justice’, and alternately, ‘the defendant moves the court to modify or change the verdict by finding the defendant guilty of a lesser included offense, Mitigated Deliberate Homicide.’
The document states that ‘the defendant was deprived of a fair trial because prejudicial, inflammatory media coverage so saturated the community that an impartial jury could not be drawn and a fair trial conducted. Over 450 case-related news items were disseminated and many of the stories were highly prejudicial. Indeed, even the defendant’s inadmissible criminal history was published just weeks before the trial. Roughly 56 percent of the jury pool responded on their questionnaires that they had already formed an opinion on the defendant’s guilt or innocence.’
Despite any sentence handed down by Judge McLean during the hearing scheduled for February 12, Kaarma's legal team is preparing an appeal to the Montana Supreme Court.