Authorities still have much to do and little time to make their case against two Mesa men who sit behind bars on suspicion of committing a series of crimes that left six dead.
“The hunt is over, but the work has just begun,” said Phoenix assistant police chief Bill Louis. “When you think about our job when we have one person under arrest for one offense — how difficult that is to put a successful case together. We’re talking about dozens of offenses here. It’s going to take us a long time to compile enough information to make sure we have them tied to the offenses that we believe.”
Police have said for weeks they believe 36 crimes are linked, but they booked Dale S. Hausner, 33, and Samuel J. Dieteman, 30, Friday on suspicion of only 15 criminal counts each, two of them first-degree murder. The pair haven’t been formally charged.
And while the urgency for arrests is gone, investigators now face time constraints set by speedy trial rules.
Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill said reports still have to be written, evidence processed and analyzed, and more investigation to be done.
Police believe the men are responsible for the six slayings, wounding 17 people, shooting 12 animals and one case of criminal damage.
Under court rules, now that Hausner and Dieteman are jailed, prosecutors have less than two weeks to prove to a judge or a grand jury that the pair should stand trial.
Barnett Lotstein, special Maricopa County attorney, said that once charges are filed, prosecutors can’t just keep adding charges without going before a grand jury, so decisions on additional charges have to be made soon.
On the other hand, prosecutors aren’t going to withhold charges just to save time, Lotstein said.
“We will charge what we think we have a reasonable expectation of proving.” he said. “That’s the standard, and if that means that we charge 36 counts or however many there are, that’s what it means.”
Eight of the 15 counts the men are accused of committing, including the shooting deaths of Robin Blasnek of Mesa and Claudia Gutierrez-Cruz in Scottsdale, are supported by an abundance of evidence, including confessions, according to court documents.
The remaining allegations are simply connected by method of operation, the documents state.
According to the documents, Hausner and Dieteman would stealthily drive up to people who were either walking alone, riding a bicycle or waiting at a bus stop late at night and open fire.
Victims were selected randomly and the crimes committed on major thoroughfares. A witness said Dieteman referred to the crimes as “RV” or Random Recreational Violence.