The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal of Markus Kaarma, the Missoula man convicted of killing a German exchange student.
Kaarma was found guilty of deliberate homicide and sentenced to 70 years in prison for the April 2014 shooting of 17-year-old exchange student Diren Dede.
Dede went into Kaarma’s Grant Creek garage, apparently looking to steal alcohol. Kaarma claimed he heard a noise and shot Dede with a shotgun.
Kaarma first appealed his case to the Montana Supreme Court in late 2015. In February 2017, the state high court upheld his sentence, and later denied a petition to rehear the appeal.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined Kaarma's petition for a writ of certiorari — the official request for the Supreme Court to hear the case.
The high court accepts very few cases for review, typically reserving its judgments for those that involve significant, unsettled constitutional or legal questions.
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Kaarma's Supreme Court appeal focused on a smaller number of issues than the one submitted to the Montana Supreme Court.
His attorneys, Nate Holloway and David Maldonado, said Kaarma’s case dealt with “critical questions” of the Sixth Amendment: the right to an impartial jury and allowing someone accused of a crime to control their own defense.
Kaarma’s attorneys argued that his repeated requests to have his trial moved because of intense media coverage in the months leading up to it should have been granted.
“In a small-town setting, the sensational nature of this charge had a massive impact on the community. A firestorm of publicity ensued,” Holloway and Maldonado wrote.
They also challenged whether certain jury instructions about the standards of justifiable use of force given at trial should have been allowed by Missoula County District Court Judge Ed McLean.