A jury convicted the main suspect in the Valley’s Serial Shooter attacks of murdering six people, but acquitted him in two other killings.
The convictions on Friday bring to a close the first phase of the trial of Dale Hausner, a 36-year-old former janitor who was accused of attacking 19 other people, seven dogs and three horses.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Hausner, who scratched out notes and whispered to one of his attorneys as the verdicts were announced. The trial’s penalty phase begins March 23.
“I’m just very thankful,” said Mary Patrick after Hausner was convicted of wounding her son, Paul Patrick. Mary Patrick covered her mouth with a tissue and wept as the verdicts on her son’s attack were read aloud.
Hausner’s relatives didn’t respond to questions from reporters as they were escorted out of the courtroom by court security.
Jurors convicted Hausner of 80 of the 86 charges against him, including 18 counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, 16 counts of aggravated assault and 23 counts of drive-by shooting.
He was acquitted in the May 2005 killings of Tony Mendez and Reginald Remillard, the July 2005 shooting of a horse and a December 2005 attack on a woman that didn’t result in an injury.
Hausner was convicted of 16 counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, 16 counts of aggravated assault, 23 counts of drive-by shooting, nine counts of animal cruelty, three counts of discharging a gun at a structure, one count of unlawfully discharging a gun, and two counts of arson of an occupied structure.
Prosecutors and attorneys for Hausner declined to comment on the verdicts.
Authorities say Hausner preyed on pedestrians, bicyclists, dogs and horses in attacks that began in May 2005 and ended in August 2006 with the arrests of Hausner and his roommate at their apartment in Mesa. Inside, police found guns, news clippings of the killings and a city map marked with the locations of some of the shootings.
The Serial Shooter attacks and an unrelated serial killer case kept neighborhood watch groups on high alert in the summer of 2006. Families stayed inside as police searched for the killers, and authorities called meetings that drew hundreds of people who learned more about the attacks and were encouraged to provide tips.
Police investigating the Serial Shooter case said Hausner attacked people from his car in a conspiracy that occasionally included his brother, Jeff Hausner, and his former roommate, Samuel Dieteman.
Dieteman, the star prosecution witness, testified that he and Dale Hausner had cruised around late at night looking for strangers to shoot.
Taking the stand in his own defense, Hausner denied any involvement in the attacks, offered alibis and suggested that Dieteman may have carried out some of the attacks. Dieteman, who is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to two of the killings, could face the death penalty.
Dieteman said Hausner never explained why he wanted to shoot people though Hausner professed a hatred for prostitutes and homeless people as they looked for victims in areas frequented by streetwalkers.
In one attack, Dieteman said he and Hausner found the sight of a victim wounded by Hausner to be funny, because they didn’t think he was seriously injured, even though the victim was holding his stomach and appeared angry.
Later that night, Dieteman said he committed his first shooting after spotting a woman walking on a sidewalk in Scottsdale.
“’It’s your turn, dude,’” Dieteman quoted Hausner as saying.
The victim, 20-year-old restaurant worker Claudia Gutierrez-Cruz, was attacked after stepping off a bus on her way home from work and later died at a hospital.
Two months before their arrests, Dieteman said he saw Hausner wound a man with a shotgun blast. Dieteman said they doubled back in Hausner’s car to see whether the victim was dead and returned to the scene to tell police that they lived nearby and were looking for a lost cat.
The men were considered witnesses at the time. Hausner told jurors he came across victim James Hodge in their search for the animal and stuck around to talk to an officer.
Police said their big break came when one of Dieteman’s drinking buddies, Ron Horton, called police to say that Dieteman had bragged about shooting people. “They called it 'RV’ing.’ Random Recreational Violence,” Horton told The Associated Press in a 2006 interview. Horton died last year.
In his testimony, Hausner portrayed himself as a busy divorced father of a sick daughter, a bachelor who had several girlfriends and a go-getter with side jobs in stand-up comedy, bartending and boxing photography. He made an appearance in a TV commercial for a personal injury law firm.