PHOENIX — A man convicted in a series of random nighttime shootings that terrorized the Phoenix area is eligible for the death penalty, a Phoenix jury decided Tuesday.
The same jury found Dale Shawn Hausner guilty March 13 of murdering six people during the so-called 'Serial Shooter' attacks in 2005 and 2006. They decided he is eligible for the death penalty after listening to testimony Monday from the medical examiner who performed the autopsies on two victims and described the pain they would have felt before they died.
Hausner sat quietly as Tuesday's decisions were read, looking down and occasionally sipping water.
The jury, which will ultimately decide whether Hausner will get the death penalty, now will hear again from defense attorneys, who are expected to present them with mitigating circumstances in an effort to spare Hausner.
Mitigating circumstances under Arizona law can include a defendant's inability to understand the wrongfulness of his actions or whether he was forced or threatened into committing a crime.
That process could take days or weeks and is set to begin Thursday.
Prosecutor Vince Imbordino told jurors Monday that Hausner committed multiple murders in an especially cruel, heinous or depraved manner, and that he was cold and calculated. Defense attorneys argued that the crimes did not merit the death penalty because the victims wouldn't have experienced any more pain than other gunshot victims.
Imbordino said after Tuesday's hearing that he was pleased with the decisions, but declined to comment further, citing the ongoing case. Defense attorney Tim Agan said the decisions weren't a big surprise, considering the same jury had found Hausner guilty of multiple murders and other offenses.
The jury found that at least two aggravating factors applied in each of the six murders — that multiple murders had occurred and Hausner had committed previous serious offenses, making him eligible for the death penalty.
An aggravating factor includes whether a defendant committed multiple murders or the crimes were "especially cruel, heinous or depraved." If jurors hadn't found an aggravating factor applied, Hausner would have faced life in prison.
The jury also found that Hausner committed four of the murders in a heinous or depraved and cold and calculated manner, and that two in particular were especially cruel.
Those were the murders of Claudia Gutierrez-Cruz, 20, and Robin Blasnek, 22. Gutierrez-Cruz was killed in May 2006 on a Scottsdale street as she was going home from work, and Blasnek died after being shot in Mesa as she walked to a friend's house about two months later.
The prosecution showed jurors pictures of their bodies Monday.
Along with the six murders, Hausner was found guilty of attacking 19 other people. He was convicted on a total of 80 charges related to the Serial Shooter attacks.
Prosecutors said Hausner, 36, preyed on pedestrians, bicyclists, dogs and horses in attacks that ended in August 2006 with the arrests of Hausner and his roommate, Samuel Dieteman, at their Mesa apartment.
Dieteman pleaded guilty to two murders in the Serial Shooter attacks and testified against Hausner. He could also face the death penalty.