The defense lawyer for Serial Shooter suspect Dale Hausner on Tuesday blamed the deaths of eight people solely on his client's former friend whom he nicknamed "killer Sam."
Samuel Dieteman is expected to be the star witness in the prosecution's case against Hausner, the Mesa man accused in dozens of random shootings in 2005 and 2006 that also left 20 people wounded.
As part of a plea deal with Maricopa County prosecutors, Dieteman, 32, has already confessed to being a co-conspirator in two of the murders.
In court on Tuesday, Hausner's attorney paved the road to blame Dieteman fully for the crime spree, saying that his client had an alibi during most of the shootings.
"My client did not shoot anybody," said attorney Kenneth Everett. "Dale was not present at any of these shootings."
Everett's comments were part of his opening arguments and fell on only the second day the case was in front of a jury.
Dieteman's attorney, Maria Schaffer in the public defender's office, did not return a call for comment.
During the daylong opening, Everett called Dieteman "the confessed serial killer," "the deal-maker Sam" and "killer Sam," all in an attempt to discredit him as a future witness.
Hausner often had an alibi when the killings and shootings took place, Everett said. He was often doing things like shopping for groceries, filling his car with gas or staying overnight at the home of his girlfriend and their child.
On the other hand, Dieteman was living in a West Valley apartment near where several of the shootings took place in May and June 2006, Everett said.
Then, in July of that year, Dieteman moved to Mesa to live with Hausner.
Everett said several shootings took place in the East Valley, including the August 2006 killing of a Mesa woman, Robin Blasnek.
"Everything after July 2006 moves east because Sam does," Everett said.
Everett also told the jury that Dieteman was pointing the finger at Hausner to avoid the death penalty. However, under the plea agreement, prosecutors have said they still intend to seek death for Dieteman.
Also Tuesday, in perhaps the first out-of-court surprise of the trial, prosecutor Vince Imbordino said one of Hausner's family members had contacted one of the victims in the case - which was strictly forbidden by Judge Roland Steinle.
Imbordino gave no details in court, saying he didn't know which family member approached the victim. He also did not say which victim was contacted.
Still, it was enough for Steinle to get a little perturbed.
He reprimanded Hausner's attorney, saying the court made special arrangements to allow family members to watch the trial.
"If I hear about it again," Steinle said, "then Mr. Hausner's family will not be allowed in the courtroom."
Later, at the end of the day, Everett tried to prepare the jury for the long haul much like Imbordino did in his own opening on Monday.
Everett pleaded with jurors to keep an open mind during the next several months while prosecutors lay out their case.
He said it would be next year before they really get to hear from the defense again.
Then Everett closed with a simple line: "See you in '09."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.