Accused Michigan Uber shooter to use insanity defense: prosecutor
By Justin Madden
(Reuters) – The Michigan Uber driver charged with murdering six people during a shooting spree in February plans to use insanity as a defense in his trial, the prosecutor in the case said on Monday.
Jason Dalton, 45, is charged with shooting eight people, killing six of them, over a five-hour period on Feb. 20, between driving customers for the Uber <UBER.UL> car service in Kalamazoo, Michigan, about 150 miles (240 km) west of Detroit.
He faces 16 charges, including six counts of murder that can bring life in prison.
Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting said on Monday that Dalton’s attorney, Eusebio Solis, told prosecutors and a Kalamazoo County judge that he intended to file a motion to use the insanity defense during a Monday pretrial conference.
Solis could not be reached for comment.
“It wasn’t a surprise at all,” Getting told reporters of the planned insanity defense. “This is where I expected the case to go from the very beginning.”
Getting said he expected a notice of intent to use that defense to be filed within seven days.
Over the next 60 days, Dalton will go undergo an evaluation by the Michigan Center for Forensic Psychiatry, Getting said. After that report, the state or defense may request another independent evaluation, which could take a further 45 days, he said.
Dalton was not diagnosed with any pre-existing mental conditions before the shootings, Getting said. On May 20, Dalton was removed from court for a verbal outburst while a witness was testifying.
In April, a judge ruled that Dalton was mentally competent to stand trial after the Center for Forensic Psychiatry said he understood the charges against him.
A status hearing is scheduled for Aug. 15.
(Reporting by Justin Madden in Chicago; Editing by Peter Cooney)