Dalton pleads guilty to killing six in between driving for Uber
KALAMAZOO (AP) — A Michigan man charged with killing six strangers between picking up rides for Uber pleaded guilty to murder on Monday, just before attorneys were set to interview jurors for his trial.
Jason Dalton’s surprise move came more than three years after the shootings, which occurred over the course of a few hours in and around Kalamazoo. Dalton pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder over his attorney’s objections, triggering a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance for parole on Feb. 5.
“Yes, I’ve wanted this for quite a while,” Dalton replied when a judge asked if the pleas were voluntary.
The 48-year-old Dalton answered “yes” to a series of questions, admitting that he shot eight people at three locations. After his arrest, police quoted Dalton as saying a “devil figure” on Uber’s app was controlling him on the day of the shootings.
Four women were killed in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant: Barbara Hawthorne, Dorothy “Judy” Brown, Mary Lou Nye and her sister-in-law, Mary Jo Nye. Rich Smith and his 17-year-old son, Tyler Smith, were fatally shot while looking at a pickup truck in a dealer’s lot.
Abigail Kopf, who was 14 at the time, was shot in the head during the restaurant shooting and survived. Tiana Carruthers was injured in a residential area.
Dalton had been deemed competent to stand trial and last week dropped an insanity defense. In court, he didn’t explain why he randomly shot eight people.
Dalton, the father of two children, had worked as an insurance adjuster and had no previous criminal record before the shootings.
Please see Tuesday's print or e-edition for full article.