Serial Shooter wants no help in next phase of trial

By Nick R. Martin | March 20th, 2009 | 2:32 pm | No Comments »

Dale Hausner

Convicted serial killer Dale Hausner wants to block a jury from hearing any evidence that could convince them to spare his life during the next phase of his murder trial, he told a judge on Thursday.

In a secret hearing at a downtown Phoenix courtroom, Hausner told Judge Roland Steinle he wanted to skip the portion of the trial in which various witnesses would testify on his behalf. Instead, he agreed to simply give a speech to the jury before they decide whether to sentence him to death.

Nicknamed the “Serial Shooter,” the 36-year-old former janitor was convicted on March 13 of murdering six people and wounding numerous others in a shooting spree that lasted more than a year. Throughout six months of trial in Maricopa County Superior Court, he denied having any involvement with the killings.

The Thursday hearing was closed to the public and attorneys were barred from talking about what took place. However, because of an apparent fluke, minutes of the secret session (download PDF) were posted Friday on the website of the court clerk’s office. Hausner’s attorney’s declined to comment about the posting.

The judge said at the hearing he would consider Hausner’s request, but he first wanted Hausner to undergo a psychological exam to prove the defendant was competent to make it, according to the minutes. Steinle ordered the results of that exam to be kept confidential as well.

Regardless of the decision, prosecutors will still get to make their case that Hausner should be sentenced to death. The penalty phase of the trial is scheduled to begin Monday.

Under Arizona state law, the same jury that convicted Hausner of the murders gets to decide whether he should be put to death. The 12-person jury took more than two weeks to decide the verdicts, and it ended up acquitting him on two of the eight murders he was charged with. In all, the jury returned 80 guilty verdicts, likely ensuring that Hausner will at least spend the rest of his life in prison.

During the first phase of the trial, prosecutors brought out more than 100 witnesses and about 1,000 pieces of evidence to paint a picture of Hausner as a unrepentant killer who roamed Valley streets at night, looking for easy targets.

Hausner testified on his own behalf, but in the end could not provide credible alibis or evidence to dispute the extensive case against him.