PHOENIX - Two men facing murder and attempted murder charges for a rash of late night shootings in the Phoenix metropolitan area were indicted Wednesday for allegedly setting two Wal-Mart stores on fire.
Samuel John Dieteman, 30, and Dale S. Hausner, 33, each face two counts of arson in U.S. District Court.
Federal arson charges carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. But the U.S. Attorney's Office won't pursue those charges until after the state finishes prosecuting Dieteman and Hausner for murder.
"We in no way want to impinge on the state's prosecution of the case," said Wyn Hornbuckle, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Paul K. Charlton. "We want to ensure they deal with the case and are satisfied with it."
If convicted in state court, the two men could face the death penalty. Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas hasn't said whether he would pursue it.
The two Wal-Mart fires on June 8 gave police a key break in the police investigation that led to the capture of Hausner and Dieteman.
The night of the fires, video surveillance cameras in one of the stores picked up two white men walking through the aisles, followed by smoke. A few weeks later, someone who saw the video on TV told Glendale police that one of the men looked like her friend, Dieteman.
Undercover police caught up to Dieteman as he was shooting pool at a Glendale bar. They followed him to the apartment he shared with Hausner.
About the same time, Phoenix police said they began to suspect Dieteman and Hausner in a series of 37 random shootings that began in May 2005.
After keeping the two men under tight surveillance, police arrested them earlier this month in connection with 16 of the 37 shootings. While searching the apartment complex where they lived, police found in the trash a map with red and blue dots marking locations of various shootings.
"I've been keeping track of what's been going on," Hausner said of the map shortly after he was arrested.
Police said Dieteman has admitted to some of the shootings. Hausner denied that he committed the arsons or the shootings.
"If Sam committed arson, and I was there with him, I did not actually commit any arson," Hausner told reporters from jail. "If you watch the surveillance videos carefully, you'll see I wasn't actually there with him when he was committing the fires."
Dieteman's lawyer, Maria Schaffer, would not comment Wednesday about the federal indictment. Hausner's lawyer did not return a call to his office Wednesday.