A Gilbert man on Monday gave the first testimony linking Dale Hausner to the Serial Shooters killing spree, making him perhaps the most important witness yet in the marathon trial.
John Kane, 41, became friends with Hausner in late 2005 while teaching him how to make cash and mix drinks at a Tempe bartending school.
But their budding friendship took a bizarre turn in December of that year, when Hausner offered to help Kane deal with a young woman at the school who had accused him of sexual harassment.
“I asked him what he was going to do about it,” Kane testified at Hausner’s eight-count murder trial in Maricopa County Superior Court. “He said, ‘Don’t worry about it. You’ll know it when it happens.’ ”
A few nights later, on Dec. 29, a car believed to belong to the young woman was shot in the parking lot of the ABC Bartending School near Mill Avenue and Baseline Road.
No one was hurt in the shooting, but the bizarre event set the school on edge.
The next morning, Kane said, he had an abrupt conversation with Hausner in the offices of the academy. “I sat down at my desk and said, ‘What the (expletive) are you doing?’ ” Kane testified. “He just smiled and said, ‘Taking care of business.’ “I asked, ‘Did you do that?’ “He said, ‘Yeah.’ ” The shooting at the academy is just one of dozens of crimes prosecutors say Hausner committed between May 2005 and August 2006 across the Valley. Hausner, 35, of Mesa, is accused of being the main half of a duo that became known as the Serial Shooters during that period.
His supposed partner, Samuel Dieteman, 33, has already pleaded guilty to two of the murders and agreed to testify against Hausner later this year.
Until Monday, prosecutors had yet to present a single witness linking Hausner to the spree since testimony began two weeks ago.
In fact, Monday’s testimony from Kane was the first time Hausner’s name has been invoked at all since both the prosecution and defense presented their opening arguments earlier this month.
Kane may end up being one of the key witnesses in the prosecution’s case, given that his testimony amounts to a confession by Hausner to at least one nonfatal shooting.
Kane also testified that Hausner hinted at having done other shootings, though he never gave any specifics.
“I made a statement that ‘Somebody could have seen you,’ ” Kane said in court. “He made a statement that ‘Nobody’s seen me yet.’ ”
Hausner’s attorney is expected to launch a major attack on Kane’s credibility today.
A four-time convicted felon, Kane testified that he considers himself a “recovering addict” who “was intoxicated in some way all the time” during the period in which he was friends with Hausner.
Kane was also charged in 2006 with drug and weapons possession and said he had cut a deal with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony in the Hausner trial.
In his opening statements, Hausner’s attorney, Ken Everett, said he would use the plea deal to show that Kane has a reason to lie on the stand.
“John Kane starts talking about Dale Hausner being a possible suspect in this case only after he was facing time,” Everett said during his Oct. 7 opening statement.
Everett also brought up the fact that Kane himself would have a motive to shoot at the car of the woman who had filed a sexual harassment complaint against him.
“John Kane was a suspect,” Everett said at the time.
Everett has his work cut out for him this week. On top of trying to debunk a key witness, he also said in court on Monday that he would like one of the jurors to be kicked off the trial.
The reason? Falling asleep on the job.
One of the youngest jurors, a man who appears to be in his 20s, has been caught napping during testimony at least twice now.
Each time, Everett has complained to Judge Roland Steinle. After the most recent incident, Everett said he wanted the juror to “be excluded right now.”
Steinle told Everett that he wasn’t ready to yank the juror just yet.
But the judge said that if the man continues to nap, the court may revisit the issue.