Prosecutors ask judge to deny change of venue request in Kaarma case


MISSOULA, Mont. - Missoula County prosecutors are asking a judge to deny a request to change the venue for the Markus Kaarma trial.

In a court document filed Friday, Missoula Chief Criminal Deputy County Attorney Jennifer Clark wrote that Kaarma has not proved he won't receive a fair trial in Missoula County.

Kaarma is charged with deliberate homicide for the shooting death of 17-year-old German exchange student Dire Dede. Prosecutors say Kaarma baited the teen into his garage early one morning in April, and fired four shots, killing Dede.

Kaarma claims he was scared for his life the night Dede entered his garage, after he was burglarized two other times. 18-year-old Tristan Staber and his 16-year-old friend were later arrested for stealing from Kaarma.

The defense team, led by Paul Ryan filed a document last month asking Judge Ed McLean to move the trial outside of Missoula. Attorney Katie Lacny filed 208 pages explaining why.

"Both the community outcry and media coverage surrounding this matter have created a bias against Markus Kaarma that cannot be overcome in Missoula County," she wrote.

Clark's response says the request from Kaarma is premature and that the media coverage has been factual.

"The defendant essentially argues that this Court should presume prejudice in this case because of the media coverage. It is of paramount importance to note that the media coverage on this case has been factual in nature and does not contain editorializing or inflammatory language," she wrote.

McLean has not ruled on the change of venue request or a second unopposed request to seal all hearings and documents in the case.

A trial is scheduled to start in December.

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