Kalamazoo mass shooting suspect found competent to stand trial

Posted at 11:41 AM, Apr 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-22 16:38:35-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A man accused of killing six people in southwestern Michigan has been found competent to understand the murder charges against him and assist his attorney.

A judge held a brief hearing Friday to acknowledge the exam results for Jason Dalton. His criminal case in Kalamazoo was on hold for weeks while experts determined whether he understood the process.

The exam wasn't intended to determine whether Dalton was insane at the time of the Feb. 20 shootings. That's a separate matter which the defense could still claim.

Dalton is charged with murder and attempted murder. Police say the 45-year-old man shot people outside an apartment building, a restaurant and a car dealership in between driving for Uber. Two people survived.

Friday after the competency hearing Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said he plans to call six to eight witnesses at the preliminary exam set next month. He said he is confident in their evidence and does not intend to admit any statements Dalton allegedly made to police including stating: his Uber app controlled him as bizarre symbols with a devil's head showed on his phone.

Getting said there will be no plea deal offered.

“There won’t be any plea agreements in this case, but Mr. Dalton is free to plead guilty at any time he wants," said Getting.

While speaking with FOX 17 Getting focused on the strong recovery from the two young survivors Tiana Carruthers and Abigail Kopf, and thanked communities at large for continued support.

“I’ve been very impressed by everybody involved in this: our survivors, the families of the deceased, by the community as a whole," said Getting.

"Certainly  this didn’t directly impact all of us in the same way that it impacted our survivors and the families of the deceased, but the community as a whole suffered as a result of this and has really come together to support each other, to support Kalamazoo, to support our families of our victims. I’ve been very impressed by everyone involved in this," he said.

A May 20 preliminary examination will determine if there's enough evidence to send Dalton to trial.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.