Court upholds death sentences in 'Serial Shooter' case

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 justification."

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 and Dieteman.

The monitoring allowed police to overhear statements in which Hausner and Dieteman implicated themselves, boasted or joked about certain killings and mocked victims.

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.

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