The two Mesa men accused of being the Serial Shooters are asking a judge to move their case to another county and gag police and prosecutors.
In a motion filed Thursday in Maricopa County Superior Court, defense attorney Garrett Simpson wrote that his client, Dale S. Hausner, could never get a fair trial in Maricopa County because “almost all of the potential jurors in this county have been or will be exposed to prejudicial media coverage of the case.”
His argument for a change of venue also is for the other suspect, Samuel J. Dieteman. Their cases will be heard together in court on Aug. 18.
Barnett Lotstein, special assistant county attorney, said his office’s prosecutors plan to challenge Simpson’s assertions.
“We are confident we can find a fair and impartial jury in the venue of Maricopa County,” Lotstein said Thursday. He added that there have been a number of defendants in the county over the years who got fair trials despite extensive media coverage.
But Simpson has cited various examples of the “overheated coverage” the case has received.
He stopped a jailhouse news conference that he contends the state “thoughtfully staged” Aug. 7, where a throng of reporters yelled questions at Hausner.
Simpson said a Google search produced 1,600 hits on the case, the “exulted” Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon called the suspects “monsters” after their Aug. 3 arrests, and medical doctors have given televised opinions on Hausner even though they haven’t examined him.
“One declared him to be a sociopath and a liar,” Simpson wrote.
Simpson refused to take a call for comment from the Tribune.
Hausner, 33, and Dieteman, 30, are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder, 14 counts of attempted firstdegree murder and 16 counts of drive-by shooting.
Police believe the pair could be linked to as many as 37 shooting incidents, including seven slayings, since May 2005.
Media interest in the case increased as the number of killings grew and police sought the public’s help in solving the crimes.
Simpson also is asking Judge James Keppel to forbid police and prosecutors from talking about the case and to keep closed records such as police reports, 911 calls and audio and video tapes of their police interrogations.
Simpson wrote that in past cases he’s defended, the media got that information before the defendant.
Lotstein said prosecutors believe they and the police have complied with all of the court rules pertaining to the release of information.