Prosecutor: Insanity defense to be used in Kalamazoo shootings

Posted at 2:56 PM, Jun 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-06 17:45:21-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- The man charged with killing six strangers in between picking up riders for Uber is expected to use insanity as a defense.

Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said Monday that Jason Dalton's defense attorney says he will file a notice of intent. Once the notice is filed-which is expected within the next seven days-the Center for Forensic Psychiatry will be ordered to perform a psychiatric evaluation of Dalton within 60 days.

Getting said he is "not surprised," and called this a common move in cases and expected the insanity defense to be used in Dalton's case. He added that he will likely hire an independent review to complete a second psychiatric exam for Dalton, which would extend the timeline before possible trial up to another 60 days.

Keep in mind, this evaluation will essentially determine if Dalton was mentally ill at the time of the Feb. 20 shootings, despite his lack of any mental health diagnoses. This exam is separate from the mental competency exam, which already found Dalton competent to stand trial.

A pretrial conference for Dalton was held Monday in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court.

Based on the timeline, unless Dalton pleads guilty, Getting expects a trial to begin around the end of September and last about three weeks. He intends to call all witnesses who testified during the preliminary exam, and said he may call survivors Tiana Carruthers as well as Abigail Kopf, depending on her medical condition at the time.

Despite Dalton's outburst during the first 10 minutes of his preliminary exam in court, Getting expects Dalton to be in the court room during his potential trial.

"I’m not concerned about how his actions would be interpreted, I’m not concerned for anyone’s safety within the court room," said Getting. "We’re well-prepared for anything he might say or do the next time he’s in court.”

The 45-year-old is charged with murder and attempted murder in the Feb. 20 shootings of eight people 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report