A lawyer for the main suspect in metro Phoenix’s Serial Shooter case says the star prosecution witness was erroneously blaming his client in hopes of saving himself from the death penalty.
PHOENIX - A lawyer for the main suspect in metro Phoenix's Serial Shooter case said Wednesday that the star prosecution witness was erroneously blaming his client in hopes of saving himself from the death penalty.
The attorney for suspect Dale Hausner said his client's former roommate, Samuel Dieteman, can't be believed because he is a convicted killer who has spiced up his statements to police to save his own skin.
"He's a lying snitch," Hausner attorney Ken Everett said of Dieteman during closing arguments at his client's trial.
Hausner, 36, is on trial on charges of killing eight people and attacking 20 others in a series of random nighttime shootings in metropolitan in 2005 and 2006. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against Hausner if he's convicted.
Prosecutors say Hausner attacked people and animals from his car in a conspiracy that occasionally included his brother, Jeff Hausner, and his roommate, Samuel Dieteman. When investigators raided the Mesa apartment shared by Dale Hausner and Dieteman in 2006, they found guns, news clippings of the Serial Shooters investigation and a city map that was marked with the locations of some of the shootings.
Dale Hausner denied any involvement in the attacks testified that he had alibis, such as being at his girlfriends' houses and taking care of his sick daughter, during some of the attacks.
Dieteman, who has pleaded guilty to two of the killings, could also face the death penalty. He has yet to be sentenced. In January, Dieteman told jurors that he and Hausner had driven around metro Phoenix shooting people from a car. Dieteman also had said he didn't take part in all the attacks.
Everett scoffed at Dieteman's claim that he was clearing his conscience by making a plea deal with prosecutors and said once Dieteman admitted to killing 20-year-old Claudia Gutierrez-Cruz, he had every reason to shift blame to Hausner.
"He knew his life was over at that point, and nothing he said beyond that point can be believed," Everett said.
In cooperating with investigators, Everett said Dieteman provided new and better details of the crimes over the course of several police interviews, even though he didn't recall some shootings until much later on. He said that suggests that Dieteman's access to police reports gave him what he needed to try to save himself.
"He continued to improve his story until he got his deal," Everett said.
Everett questioned the credibility of former Hausner lovers who undercut his alibi testimony, saying the women began taking that stance only after his client was accused of committing murders. "You want to distance yourself from that alleged scum Serial Shooter," Everett said of the women's motivation.
Prosecutor Laura Reckart declined to comment on Everett's closing arguments.
On Tuesday, prosecutors said Hausner carried out the shootings for fame and that a map that was found in Hausner's apartment and marked the locations of some of the killings revealed his favorite places for the attacks.
Reckart told jurors that Dale Hausner had an elaborate plan to "kill, maim, destroy and terrify."
Everett said Hausner was too busy caring for his sick daughter and picking up moonlighting jobs to have carried out the crimes.
The locations of the attacks are near the various places where Dieteman lived in 2005 and 2006, Everett said.
Prosecutors are expected to present their rebuttal to the defense arguments on Thursday, and then the case is expected to be put in the hands of the jury.
The Serial Shooters case was one of two serial murder investigations that put the Phoenix area on edge for months during the summer of 2006. Police attributed another 23 attacks, including nine slayings, to an assailant dubbed the Baseline Killer.
A month after Hausner and Dieteman's August 2006 arrests, police arrested Mark Goudeau and eventually accused him of being the Baseline Killer. Goudeau was convicted of two sexual assaults authorities link to the Baseline Killer. He was sentenced to 438 years in prison in that case and still faces trial on the murder counts.