PHOENIX - Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas testified Friday that he authorized emergency police wiretaps in 2006 to "stop the killing" in Phoenix's Serial Shooter case.
Thomas testified that he believed police didn't have enough evidence to arrest suspects Dale Hausner and Samuel Dieteman. But he said he believed they were the killers and investigators needed the wiretaps to find out if and when they were going to strike again.
Hausner and Dieteman are accused of killing numerous people in a series of random shootings. Dieteman has pleaded guilty to two murder charges in the case. Hausner still faces eight murder charges and has pleaded not guilty.
Hausner's lawyers are challenging the wiretaps' legality, arguing that there was no emergency at the time the wiretaps were authorized and police didn't have enough information on either defendant to justify and emergency order.
Under Arizona law, a prosecutor can authorize a police wiretap without a judge's approval in extreme circumstances.
Thomas testified for about 45 minutes. The judge in the case has not issued a ruling, and the hearing on the wiretaps and other procedural issues is expected to last most of the day.
Court documents show the wiretaps recorded Hausner and Dieteman boasting about the shootings. On the tapes, the two men talked about how they wanted to "kill 500," and how much they "loved shooting people in the back."
Phoenix's "Serial Shooter" case includes a series of random attacks that left eight people dead, 17 more wounded and several dead animals from May 2005 to August 2006.
In August 2006, police arrested Hausner, 35, and Dieteman, 32, in their Mesa apartment and later charged them in the case. Authorities retrieved numerous firearms at the residence, as well as news clippings of the police investigation and a map of the city marked with what police said were locations of some of their attacks.
Dieteman pleaded guilty earlier this month to two counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. As part of the deal, prosecutors agreed to drop 50 criminal counts including arson and attempted murder charges.
A week after he entered the plea, prosecutors added one more murder charge to those Hausner was facing, bringing the total to eight. They said new information from Dieteman helped them connect Hausner to the shooting of Nathaniel Schoffner on Nov. 11, 2005. Prosecutors said he confronted Hausner as he was about to shoot a dog.
Thomas has said he plans to seek the death penalty against both defendants.
According to the plea agreement, the penalty phase for Dieteman's case won't be held until after Hausner's trial, which now is scheduled to begin in early September. The agreement says Dieteman's testimony will be considered a mitigating factor when his own sentence is decided.