The main suspect in the Serial Shooter attacks received six death sentences Friday for a series of murders that put the Valley on edge for nearly two years.
Dale Shawn Hausner, a former janitor convicted two weeks ago of killing six people and attacking 19 others in random nighttime shootings, was expressionless as the decisions were announced. His kept his head down and flipped through papers in front of him. Before being led out of the courtroom, Hausner thanked the judge who presided over his trial.
"It's justice as much as it can be," said Rebecca Estrada, whose 20-year-old son, David Estrada, was shot to death in Tolleson in June 2005. "The death penalty is the limit and that's what he deserves."
Hausner's mother was whisked out through the courtroom's back door by one of her son's lawyers. Tim Agan, another Hausner lawyer, declined to comment on the death sentences.
Michael Anthony Scerbo, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, which prosecuted the case, declined to comment on the decisions.
The jury's decision came a day after Hausner told jurors they should put him to death because it would help the victims' families heal.
Prosecutors say Hausner preyed on pedestrians, bicyclists, dogs and horses during a 14-month conspiracy that occasionally included his brother and his former roommate, Sam Dieteman. Dale Hausner is scheduled to be sentenced Monday on 74 other convictions in the case.
Dieteman, who has pleaded guilty to two of the killings and is awaiting sentencing, testified against Hausner, saying he and his roommate cruised around late at night looking for strangers to shoot. Dieteman could also face the death penalty.
The Serial Shooter attacks and an unrelated serial killer case kept neighborhood watch groups on high alert in the summer of 2006. Families stayed inside as police searched for the killers, and authorities called meetings that drew hundreds of people who learned more about the attacks and were encouraged to provide tips.
Police said their big break in the Serial Shooter case came when one of Dieteman's drinking buddies, Ron Horton, called police to say that Dieteman had bragged about shooting people. "They called it 'RV'ing.' Random Recreational Violence," Horton told The Associated Press in a 2006 interview. Horton died last year.
Dieteman said Hausner professed a hatred for prostitutes and homeless people as they looked for victims in areas frequented by streetwalkers. Still, Dieteman said, Hausner never explained why he wanted to shoot people.
Even though Hausner has denied any involvement in the attacks since his arrest in August 2006, he took an odd turn during the penalty phase of his trial, telling jurors Thursday they should give him the death penalty because it would help the families of victims.
Hausner appeared resigned by that point. He declined the opportunity to call his own witnesses in a bid for leniency and instructed his attorneys not to plead for a life sentence.
"I'm not up here to point the finger at anybody else and say, 'Have mercy on my poor and withered soul,'" Hausner told the jury on Thursday. "I'm willing to accept my punishment like a man without blaming anybody."
Hausner had, in fact, suggested in the past that Dieteman may have carried out some of the attacks, saying his roommate could have taken his car while Hausner was sleeping.
Hausner offered alibis that included being at his girlfriends' houses, shopping at the grocery store, driving in another part of the Phoenix area or taking care of his daughter.
The punishments handed down Friday by the jury were only for the six murder convictions against Hausner. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Roland Steinle is scheduled to sentence Hausner on Monday on his remaining convictions for attempted murder, aggravated assault, drive-by shooting, animal cruelty and other charges.
Two weeks ago, when jurors found Hausner guilty in dozens of the attacks, they acquitted Hausner in two other killings and another attack that didn't result in an injury.
Dieteman, a drifter who slept in Hausner's living room for four months before their arrest, gave damning testimony against his former roommate.
Dieteman told jurors that he and Hausner found humor at the sight of one of their seriously injured victims, who held his stomach and appeared angry.
Hausner's lawyers told jurors that Dieteman gave authorities bad information in hopes of getting out of the death penalty.
Prosecutors said Hausner carried out the shootings for fame and kept news clippings of the crimes as trophies.
Dieteman told jurors that he and Hausner often followed news accounts of the killings because they wanted to see which leads investigators were pursuing. Hausner said there was nothing wrong with his collection of news clippings.
Hausner cast himself as busy divorced father of a sick daughter, a ladies' man and a go-getter with side jobs in standup comedy, bartending and boxing photography. He also made an appearance in a TV commercial for a personal injury law firm.
As a murder defendant, Hausner took several unusual steps. Shortly after his arrest, he held a jailhouse news conference that ended when his newly appointed public defender entered the room and whispered that he should stop talking to reporters.
His decision to take the stand in his own defense exposed him to tough questioning from prosecutors. Hausner admitted that he misrepresented himself to investigators who were looking into two arsons allegedly tied to the case and lying to investigators about where he threw away one of his guns.
In talking to jurors about how the names of infamous serial killers arose during a police interview, Hausner said he was fascinated with serial killers Charles Starkweather and Jeffrey Dahmer, saying he wondered how Dahmer could eat the remains of some of his victims and then go to work the next day.
In a statement to jurors just before deliberations began in his trial's penalty phase, Hausner said the Hausner name would likely become as infamous as Charles Manson's.
Hausner's brother, Jeff Hausner, pleaded guilty in 2007 to a stabbing and is serving a 7 1/2-year prison term. He was indicted in another stabbing attack related to the Serial Shooter case last summer. He has pleaded not guilty in that case.