Defense Accuses Missoula Police of Failures in Markus Kaarma Investigation
The defense presented its first witness on the sixth day of the trial of Markus Kaarma, who has been accused of deliberate homicide in the fatal shooting of Diren Dede, a German foreign exchange student who entered Kaarma's garage on the night of April 27, 2014. He was there to testify to failures on the part of the Missoula Police Department in their investigation of the shooting, but ended up defending the validity of his Phd during cross examination.
Dr. Ron Martinelli, a forensic expert who owns a consulting company that specializes in training officers, took the stand testify to what he believes were failures of the Missoula Police Department to follow up on clues from the burglaries at the Kaarma garage in late March or early April. He cited credit card charges from the stolen credit card to buy gas and food from Wendy's as examples. He also believes errors were made on the scene when Diren Dede was shot. He believes officers should have begun documenting the crime scene while EMTs were attempting to save Dede's life. He described that in his opinion the first priority should have been both first aid and preserving the crime scene. In his opinion the second priority should have been locating the suspect who fled the scene, now known to have been Robby Pazmino.
During a heated cross examination from Jennifer Clark, Martinelli had to defend himself when she addressed the fact that the school where he got his Phd had not been accredited by the state of California. Martinelli asserts that degrees earned before 1997 have been deemed valid, which includes his own. Clark further asserted that an article in the Sacramento Bee, it had been stated that the state of California had been attempting to shut the school down from the day it opened--and further noted that Martinelli's degree would not be considered valid in states like Oregon. Martinelli tersely responded "I couldn't care less what they think in Oregon." He did state that his Phd has been challenged before, but asserted that it only happens when people "don't do their homework."
Martinelli had asserted that even though Kaarma was known to be the shooter, and admitted as much to police, he and his common-law wife Janelle Pflager should have been treated as victims by police, not suspects. He asserts that Robby Pazmino should have been treated as a suspect instead, indicating bias by the Missoula Police Department against Markus Kaarma.
Clark asked Martinelli to verify that in shootings, all people involved must be treated as witnesses equally. Martinelli asserted that in this case it should have been assumed the homeowner's property was invaded, and as such Kaarma was a victim. Clark challenged that in shooting cases it is important to separate witnesses to determine what happened, which was done. Martinelli agreed, but continued to assert that in this case Kaarma should have been granted the status of victim.
Martinelli says that "use of force" is a specialty of his and has been involved in six cases in which the defendant claimed self defense, both for the prosecution and defense teams.