PHOENIX – The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the death sentences
of a man convicted of six murders and numerous other crimes in the so-called
Serial Shooter case, a series of random nighttime shootings that put many
Phoenix-area residents on edge for months.
Dale Shawn Hausner was convicted in 2009 of murdering six people and wounding
18 others in nighttime shootings that randomly targeted pedestrians, bicyclists
and animals in 2005 and 2006.
The Supreme Court upheld all of his 80 convictions except one count of animal
cruelty. The court said there wasn’t enough evidence to support a conviction for
the shooting of a horse.
Co-defendant Samuel Dieteman testified against Hausner and was sentenced to
life in prison.
In its unanimous ruling on Hausner’s appeal, the justices for the first time
approved the use of Arizona’s death-penalty sentencing factor for killings
conducted in a “cold, calculated manner without pretense of moral or legal
Sentencing factors are considered by Arizona juries when deciding whether to
impose a death sentence or life in prison.
Hausner’s appeals lawyer argued that the factor added to Arizona’s sentencing
law in 2005 was unconstitutionally vague.
The justices agreed that the factor is vague but said the trial judge’s
instructions made it clear that it only applies to cases with additional
reflection and planning.
In reviewing numerous other appeals issues, the court said police legally
obtained emergency authorization for warrantless electronic monitoring of Hauser
The monitoring allowed police to overhear statements in which Hausner and
Dieteman implicated themselves, boasted or joked about certain killings and
Hausner didn’t admit guilt but told the jury before sentencing that he should
be sentenced to death. “I’m willing to take whatever punishment you guys give
me, and I firmly believe, to help the victims heal, that should be the death
penalty,” he said.
The appeal to the state Supreme Court was automatic, but it’s not known if
Hausner will permit further appeals on his behalf.
His attorney in the Supreme Court appeal, Thomas J. Dennis, did not immediately
respond to an email seeking comment.