12/17/2014 - Expert Paid $44,000 To Investigate Homicide Case Discredited By Attorney For Having a Degree From 'Defunct University'.


Prosecutors in deliberate homicide trial of Markus Kaarma's on Friday attacked the defense's first expert witness, who received his doctorate from an unaccredited university that is now defunct and was paid $44,000 to investigate the case and testify.

Thirty year old Kaarma is accused of fatally shooting a German foreign exchange student, Diren Dede, 17 who was searching for alcohol in Kaarma's Grant Creek garage in the early hours of April 27.

Kaarma's attorneys contend he shot the 17-year-old in self-defense after his home had been targeted by a group of burglars;. Howver, prosecutors argue Kaarma and his partner, Janelle Pflager, baited would-be burglars into the garage to shoot them.

During her cross examination Friday afternoon, Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jennifer Clark focused on Dr. Ron Martinelli's experience and academic training, discrediting previous statements indicating he had pre-medical background and had experience “training doctors.”

Martinelli received his doctorate from Columbia Pacific University, a distance-learning college that was never accredited and closed more than a decade after he graduated in 1983.

“It was closed because it had virtually no academic standards, correct?” Clark asked Martinelli.

Ex- police officer, Martinelli in his testimony for the defense cited apparent flaws in the investigation, and said if he were investigating the case he would not have recommended a deliberate homicide charge against Kaarma.

"Because based on what I saw, I felt there was much more work that needed to be done before they made their decision," now 'law enforcement consultant', Martinelli said.

The night of the Dede's shooting, Martinelli said, detectives failed to test the ambient light and should have used a more collaborative approach in gathering information.

"Every minute after a crime, you start to lose evidence," he said.

The patrol officers who first arrived on the scene should have been documenting everything that was moved or disturbed by emergency medical responders, he said.

Investigators also failed to take into account Kaarma's emotional and psychological state, Martinelli said.

In such a "high-stress event," he said, a person's hearing could be diminished and his memory could be flawed. Normally, it would take 72 to 100 hours for a person to regain 90 percent of his or her memory, indicating that Kaarma should have been interviewed at least three days after the shooting.

In summary, Martinelli argued that officers charged Kaarma too soon, then scrambled to make the evidence fit the charge.

"Detectives who have limited information or no experience, will make a faulty judgment," he said. "They start trying to wrap up the investigation around faulty theory. They try to shove a square peg into a round hole and if that doesn't work for them, they start picking out what doesn't fit."

When Clark cross-examined him, he admitted that during his 200-plus homicide investigations, he had never waited three days to interview a suspect. But he also noted that those homicides were robbery or gang-related.

The defense called several more police officers before District Judge Ed McLean adjourned the trial until Monday. (Image shows Markus Kaarma)

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