MISSOULA — The Missoula law firm that is representing a Grant Creek resident accused of murdering a German exchange student will host a live showing of the U.S.-Germany World Cup soccer match on big-screen televisions in Caras Park on Thursday.
Paul Ryan & Associates sent an announcement to the media Tuesday, saying it will host the free live showing at 10 a.m. Thursday. The game will be shown on two 65-inch televisions.
Ryan is representing Markus Kaarma, who is accused of shooting and killing a German exchange student in his garage in May, setting off an international debate over American gun laws and Montana’s castle doctrine.
In a phone interview, Ryan said the soccer game’s live showing has nothing to do with his firm’s involvement in Kaarma’s defense. (Ryan contends that his client was acting in defense of his family when he fired three shots at 17-year-old Diren Dede.)
Ryan said the fact that Germany is playing the U.S. is purely a coincidence.
“Honestly, that didn’t cross my mind,” Ryan said. “We were just excited about the game and we wanted to provide this to the community. I hope it doesn’t turn into something negative. It’s just a weird timing of the two teams that match up. It doesn’t have anything to do with our case. Hopefully, people can forget about those things and watch a soccer game. We just did it as a community event.”
Kaarma faces a deliberate homicide charge in the death of Dede, who was attending classes at Big Sky High School. Dede played on the varsity soccer team at Big Sky, as well as for the Missoula Strikers Soccer Association and in his home country.
A friend who was with Dede when he was killed told police that the two were “garage hopping,” looking for beer, in Kaarma’s garage when Kaarma opened fire with a shotgun.
Kaarma entered a not guilty plea in Missoula County District Court on May 22. He will be back in court Wednesday morning for a hearing.
The case inflamed passions in Germany, where gun laws are much more restrictive than in the United States. The German consul general, Peter Rothen, the official representative of the German government in the Pacific Northwest, wrote Montana Gov. Steve Bullock a letter stating that “the particular circumstances of this 17-year-old student’s death have deeply shocked and dismayed my government and the German people who are very hard pressed to understand that an unarmed young man who apparently had trespassed into a Missoula resident’s garage, was shot to death by the resident pretending to exercise a right to self-defense.”
However, Ryan was adamant that the soccer party has absolutely nothing to do with the case, and he was considering canceling the event when he realized that people might make that connection.
He said that he chose to host a live viewing of the game, and not the previous two U.S. men’s team games at the World Cup, because of the sheer amount of excitement generated from the first two matches. According to ESPN, the thriller between the U.S. and Portugal on Sunday afternoon was the most-watched soccer game in American history.
“This really was the idea of the girls in our office – they are so excited about the game,” he said. “There are a lot of other places doing it. I’m 100 percent honest when I say that it has nothing to do with anything from our case. I’ve seen it in other communities, and I wanted to donate to do something here. It’s that simple.”