An Arizona serial killer says it's too stressful to appear in court on his request to skip further appeals so he can be executed quickly for six murders and other shootings that terrorized the Phoenix area several years ago.
In a handwritten letter disclosed Tuesday, Dale Hausner told a judge that other inmates tried to assault him during his trial, resulting in tight security procedures.
"The process I am going through is high stress, and it would be easier for everyone involved if I could do a telephonic appearance," Hausner said in the Aug. 9 letter to a Maricopa County Superior Court judge.
Hausner was convicted of six murders and numerous other crimes in a series of random shootings in 2005 and 2006. Victims included pedestrians, bicyclists and animals.
The Arizona Supreme Court on July 10 upheld his convictions and death sentences in his only automatic appeal.
Hausner was not in court Tuesday when Judge Roland Steinle scheduled a hearing starting Feb. 28 to listen to experts discuss Hausner's mental competency. Steinle said he'll also want to hear from Hausner himself.
"I have to assure myself that he's competent," the judge said.
Hausner's court-appointed lawyer waived Hausner's appearance at the start of Tuesday's hearing, through Hausner apparently tried unsuccessfully to get through by telephone from prison soon after the start.
The call could not be connected after court personnel belatedly realized beeps from the courtroom's sound system were an attempt to connect a call.
The letter to Steinle was the latest of several sent by Hausner to various officials regarding his case. The judge agreed to a request from Hausner's lawyer to order Hausner to communicate through her.
Attorney Julie Hall said she'd told Hausner not to communicate directly with judges or prosecutors. "But I can't guarantee that won't happen again," she said.
Steinle said he would forward any further letters unread to Hall to decide what action to take.
"That way, I will work on this matter not being tainted by any further communication from Mr. Hausner," the judge said.
Hausner's requests also included that he be allowed to represent himself. Another judge appointed Hall until a ruling is made.
Hall was a lawyer for another death-row inmate who was executed in 2007 after fending off arguments by Hall and other death-penalty defense lawyers that he wasn't competent and was coerced by harsh prison conditions to withdraw previously filed appeals.
Hausner didn't acknowledge guilt during his trial, but he said before being sentenced that death should be his penalty to help the surviving victims and victims' relatives heal.
Hall declined to comment after Tuesday's hearing.