Dalton to be sentenced for killing 6 and wounding 2 in Kalamazoo

Posted at 4:03 AM, Feb 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-05 12:15:46-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP/FOX 17) — A Michigan man who pleaded guilty last month to killing six strangers between picking up rides for Uber is set to be sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole.

Jason Dalton is scheduled to receive the mandatory sentence Tuesday in Kalamazoo County. The surprise guilty plea as lawyers and a judge planned for jury selection came Jan. 7 — nearly three years after he shot eight people at three locations.

Dalton was accused of killing six people and injuring two others in a shooting spree while picking up rides for Uber on Feb. 20, 2016. The trial was delayed several times while Dalton’s attorney tried to suppress some statements he made to police. Michigan’s appeals court has agreed some can’t be used.

Richard Smith, 53, and his son Tyler, 17, were killed at a car dealership by Dalton. Later that night, Mary Jo Nye, 60, Mary Lou Nye, 62, Dorothy Brown, 74, and Barbara Hawthorne, 68, were all killed in the parking lot of the Cracker Barrel restaurant. Abby Kopf, 14, was critically wounded at that scene as well and has undergone numerous surgeries. Tianna Carruthers suffered four gunshot wounds earlier in the day and has recovered.

Relatives of the victims began making their impact statements shortly after 10:00 a.m. in the order that they were listed in the charges against Dalton. Christopher and Bart Nye talked about Mary Jo and Mary Lou as wife, sister and mother. Barbara Hawthorne's family shared memories and asked Dalton why he chose to play god. The sons of Dorothy Brown talked about their mom and Emily Smith and Laurie Smith talked about their brother, father and husband, Tyler and Richard Smith.

Dalton told a judge last month that he wanted to plead guilty "for quite a while." Defense attorney Eusebio Solis said he advised Dalton against it but added his 48-year-old client wanted to spare the victims' families more grief.

Police quoted Dalton as saying a "devil figure" on Uber's app controlled him.

Dalton has been in custody since the night of the shootings and has undergone mental evaluations. In May 2016, during a pretrial hearing, Dalton was removed from the courtroom after interrupting Carruthers' testimony. He had to be restrained and hauled from the courtroom by court deputies.

Dalton will be sentenced on February 5 at 10:00 a.m. Bond was denied.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.