Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas was a no-show Friday at a hearing on emergency bugs and wiretaps he authorized in the Serial Shooter investigation.
Judge Roland Steinle of Maricopa County Superior Court wants Thomas to testify next month to explain what emergency existed for him to authorize the secret recordings.
Thomas, who did not return a call seeking comment, said in a written statement that Steinle’s order could jeopardize the case against Samuel Dieteman and Dale Hausner by creating “unnecessary issues” for appeal if they are convicted.
Thomas said he plans to appeal Steinle’s decision.
Prosecutors accuse Dieteman and Hausner, both of Mesa, of killing seven people and wounding at least 17 during a Valleywide spree of random shootings between May 2005 and August 2006.
They were dubbed the Serial Shooters.
Steinle has to decide whether the bugs and wiretaps will be admissible at trial.
It would usually be up to a judge to authorize bugs and wiretaps, but county attorneys and attorneys general are allowed to when “death or serious physical injury may be averted.”
The prosecutors then have to apply for a judge’s authorization within 48 hours, according to state law.
Defense attorneys allege Thomas overstepped his authority because police were quickly closing in on Dieteman and Hausner and they had already gotten court approval for tapping their phones, so no emergency existed.
“The defendant submits that someone investigating this case made a decision on or about Aug. 1, 2006, to place bugs in the Defendants’ apartment and the Defendant’s car 'hoping’ to get some talk, a classic 'fishing expedition,’” defense attorney Kenneth D. Everett wrote.
According to court documents, the Serial Shooters struck eight times in July 2006, and seemed to be striking more frequently.
“It was anyone’s guess on when or where the 'Serial Shooter’ would murder or attempt to murder again,” prosecutors wrote in legal papers.
Cops sought the emergency order from Thomas because they had problems following the two as they prowled city streets and it would have been impossible to intervene once they chose a target, court documents state.