Prosecutor: Insanity defense to be used Kalamazoo shootings

AP News
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Posted: Jun 06, 2016 6:05 PM
Prosecutor: Insanity defense to be used Kalamazoo shootings

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan man charged with killing six strangers in between picking up riders for Uber is expected to plead insanity in his defense.

Jason Dalton's attorney told a judge Monday during a pretrial conference in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court that he will file a notice of intent to use the insanity defense, Prosecutor Jeff Getting said at a news conference.

"It wasn't a surprise at all," Getting said. "This is where I expected the case to go from the very beginning."

Dalton, 45, is charged with murder and attempted murder in the Feb. 20 shootings of eight people, including a 14-year-old girl, in three locations in the Kalamazoo area. Six people died.

Police have quoted Dalton as saying a "devil figure" on Uber's app was controlling him on the night of the shootings.

According to a police report, Dalton told authorities that "it feels like it is coming from the phone itself" and that the "devil figure ... would give you an assignment and it would literally take over your whole body."

The Associated Press left a message Monday afternoon seeking comment from Eusebio Solis, Dalton's lawyer.

Solis was expected to file the insanity defense notice within the next seven days, Getting said.

Once the notice is filed, a judge will order the state's Center for Forensic Psychiatry to perform a psychiatric evaluation of Dalton within 60 days.

Defense attorneys will try to demonstrate that Dalton was legally insane at the time of the shootings, Getting said.

"This will be focused on Mr. Dalton's actions on the night of Feb. 20, 2016," Getting said. "The questions will be whether or not he was mentally ill, and if so, whether, as a result of that illness, he was able to substantially conform his conduct to the law, or if he was unable to understand the wrongfulness of his actions."

The state's forensic center already has determined Dalton is able to understand the charges against him and assist his lawyers at trial.

"We know that he didn't have any diagnosed mental illness prior to this incident," Getting said.

Dalton's trial could start sometime this fall.