Traverse City Record-Eagle


May 14, 2014

Another View: Two high-profile cases testing the lines

Two high-profile cases are testing the lines when it comes to defending one’s home.

A Montana man is accused of setting a trap and blindly blasting a shotgun into his garage, killing a 17-year-old German exchange student. A Minnesota man is convicted of lying in wait in his basement for two teenagers and killing them during a break-in.

Both are being tried for murder due to the extreme measures they went to while defending their homes — and we think prosecutors have made the right call by taking both cases to the jury.

We strongly believe in citizens’ right to protect themselves and their property using the appropriate force necessary — but there are lines.

The Montana case involves a man who blindly blasted a shotgun into his garage, killing an exchange student. Markus Kaarma, 29, who said he had been burgled twice, left a purse in his garage as a carrot to a prospective intruder. He allegedly told his hairdresser he stayed up three days waiting to spring the trap and now Diren Dede, 17 of Hamburg, Germany, is dead. It is not known why Dede was in the garage as he was shot without warning.

The Minnesota case is gruesome. Byron Smith, 65, was convicted of murder in the shooting deaths of Nick Brady, 17, and Haile Kifer, 18, when the two broke into his home in 2012 looking for prescription drugs. Audio recording detailed a disturbing scene.

Smith moved his vehicle to make it appear he wasn’t home and waited in the basement with supplies and weaponry in what was described as a “deer stand.” According to prosecution, Smith shot Brady three times then put the body in a tarp and moved it into a different room. Kifer, looking for her partner in the break in, came down to the stairs and was shot six times, including what Smith himself described as a “finishing shot.” Police were not called until the day after the shootings.

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