Hausner hearing focuses on comments to media - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Hausner hearing focuses on comments to media

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Posted: Friday, February 1, 2008 11:20 pm | Updated: 3:45 pm, Wed Jun 19, 2013.

When attorney Garrett Simpson walked into a downtown Phoenix jailhouse in Aug. 2004, he saw a spectacle before him: heavily armored police, bright lights and dozens of rabid journalists.

At the center of it all was the client who had been assigned to him only minutes earlier, one of the suspects in the Serial Shooters spree, Dale Hausner.

"It was alarming. It was unprecedented," Simpson, a long-time defense lawyer, said Friday in Maricopa County Superior Court. "In almost a quarter-century of being a public defender, I have never seen anything like it."

Simpson's testimony kicked off a nearly three-hour hearing about the many times Hausner has talked to journalists since his arrest.

Hausner's current attorney, Kenneth Everett, was asking a judge to throw out everything Hausner told the media that day, including comments pointing the finger at his roommate and fellow suspect Sam Dieteman.

Hausner and Dieteman are accused of killing seven people and wounding 17 others during a monthslong shooting spree that terrorized the Valley. Should they be found guilty, both could face the death penalty.

Everett tried to show his client was tricked into speaking at the news conference by a publicity-hungry media relations staff for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, which runs the jail.

Simpson, who left the case after Everett took over, testified about how dramatic and confusing the day was.

Hausner himself testified Friday that he didn't know he would be speaking to the media until officers with the jail's tactical squad escorted him into the room set up for the event.

Asked by his lawyer why he didn't say something about the surprise, Hausner said, "When you have six armed people standing around behind you, you do what they tell you to do."

His story was disputed by Lindsey Smith-Maklin, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office.

She testified Hausner signed a document saying he was willing to speak to the press.

"He said, 'Yes, I'll absolutely talk to them,' " Smith-Maklin said. She passed the document through a slot in the door and he signed it, she said.

Hausner said the piece of paper was a trick, and he didn't know what he was signing.

It used the term "blanket media" as a way of giving access to all media outlets. Hausner, however, said he believed he was signing a form that would get him a blanket because he was cold.

In response, Deputy County Attorney Laura Reckart painted Hausner as the publicity-hungry person in the situation.

She cited times when Hausner called a reporter with the Tribune, and specifically one time when he asked for a free subscription in exchange for selling so many papers.

He called the comment "just a joke" and said he contacted reporters because he wanted to "clear up the many lies that they put out there."

Judge Roland Steinle said he will consider the testimony from all three and decide soon whether to let Hausner's contacts with the media be used in the case.

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