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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Decision and the Horse - Court Upholds Hausner Conviction

Today the Arizona Supreme Court upheld all 6 death penalties that Dale Hausner, who once terrorized the Phoenix area as the Serial Shooter, was given at his trial.  You may have heard me on the radio in your home town today talking about it.  If that made you want to know more, here it is.

This appeal was a mandatory appeal that Hausner had no choice in. In fact, he made an effort to stop it but defendants on Death Row get at least one appeal whether they like it or not.

Dale Hausner makes a point to his atty, Ken Everett, during a break in his trial
Photo Copyright Camille Kimball

His attorneys argued that the wiretaps installed in a neighbor's wall was illegal.  It was installed with the express permission of the County Attorney, but not of a judge.  The County Attorney had testified that "the sun was going down, more people were going to die, we had to it."  This is important legally because usually a judge must authorize police eavesdropping on private citizens at large.  In this case, Arizona had a statute in place that gave the County Attorney very limited ability to authorize a tap but only if a public "emergency" was at hand.  At sundown on August 2, 2006, police knew that as the light faded, the Serial Shooter would be gearing up to go out and hunt--hunt all of us.

With the neighbor's permission (imagine that knock on your door, finding a slew of cops asking to use your place as an electronic home base!), the listening device was implanted in the wall shared with  Dale Hausner's unit. A platoon of authorities listened in horror all night as Dale Hausner and Sam Dieteman gloried in reliving their acts of murder and gleefully mocked the suffering of their victims.

By morning, the County Attorney had 1) certainty that he had the right guys 2) the signed authorization of a judge for the wiretaps that had already been installed.

Arizona's Emergency Wiretap law does require that a judge sign off on the tapping within 48 hours. If the judge refuses, the tape cannot be used. The authorities complied with this provision 100%.  What Hausner's attorneys argued to the court was that there simply was no emergency because Hausner was already under surveillance therefore the tape should be thrown out anyway.

The Supreme Court justices didn't buy that argument.  Cop after cop, in some of the most harrowing testimony of the trial, explained how they could not have prevented another killing once the sun went down. True, Hausner was under surveillance at all times once they fingered him, but surveillance, by its very nature, is a game of stealth.  The cops were at least 2 or 3 car lengths back from Hausner's lethal Camry and often were as far back as a mile. Sometimes surveillance was taken over from the air. How was an officer, without a time machine, to jump in front of the Camry and wrestle the shotgun away before he saw it raised through the car window to kill someone?

One permanently under cover officer--I cannot reveal his name--testified he took to rolling down his own window to shout at pedestrians "Go home! Get out of here!" without explanation.  To the pedestrians at whom these frantic yells were directed, it must have seemed the underworld-looking figure was a hopped-up maniac. They will never know he saved their lives.  But it illustrates perfectly how being under surveillance does not equate with preventing murder.

The justices were right to uphold the use of the wiretap* tapes and not fall for the empty argument that we were all safe from gory death because cops were trailing Dale Hausner a mile behind.

Apache suffered terribly from his wounds

There was one victory for Dale Hausner in the court's decision: one charge of animal cruelty was dismissed. The justices ruled that there wasn't enough evidence.  The horse in question is pictured above. His name is Apache. He's a beautiful paint and, on the night he was mercilessly shot, he was the pet of a five year old girl.

Apache suffered terribly and his owner struggled with tough decisions that night. Ultimately, the veterinarian was able to save Apache's life. But, though he tried, he was unable to recover the three bullets. That's right, Apache is still walking around with the evidence inside him.  I believe Apache's family made the right decision that awful night to spare him further pain or risk pushing the bullets into fatal positions with the vet's probe.  Now Apache is a living piece of evidence.  It's still possible that one day the forensics he carries inside him may yet find its way into a lab and be tied directly to Dale Hausner's twenty-two calibre rifle.

Apache carries Dale's secrets within him

Throwing out the conviction on this animal cruelty charge will not make a whit of difference to Dale Hausner's fate. He will still serve hundreds of years in prison...or rather, as many as he can chalk up before they come for him with the needles.

This has been Hausner's mandatory appeal. Whether he now makes good on his stated goal of not appealing the death sentences of remains to be seen.  At trial, he did tell the jury he himself believes in the death penalty. And in jail he did make one attempt on his own life with a cunningly hoarded cache of over-the-counter medicines.

Today the news is that the overwhelming pile of evidence against Dale Hausner is still visible, still viable, and still forming a wall of imprisonment around him.  The critical wiretaps have been endorsed by the highest court in the state.  Anyone who has listened to those sickening tapes will be relieved.

The case of the Phoenix Serial Shooter was the first time any one had ever used the Emergency Wiretap Law. If ever there was an emergency that threatened imminent  death to untold numbers of innocents, it was the Summer of the Serial Shooter.

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You may also be interested in this post about a recent visit with one of Dale Hausner's victims. I Feel Angry @#*!!

*The listening device in question is more properly known as a "bug" because it was not installed on Dale Hausner's phone. But at trial it was referred to as the "wiretaps" and the justices specifically repeated that nomenclature in their decision.

For more stories on the damage done by the Phoenix Serial Shooter and the people who hunted him down, please check out A SUDDEN SHOT: THE PHOENIX SERIAL SHOOTER.  Also visit the book's FB page, where family members still gather. Well wishers are welcome to post messages to them. 

Pssst! Going to jail, buying documents, and everything else it takes to get this kind of info  for the blog takes time and money! Every time you make a purchase here, it helps me be able to do more for you! 

Please visit the "Bookstore"  Tab Above 


  1. Camille, it may have opened old wounds but this decision needed to be shown to the public. Thank you for continuing to being the advocate of his victims. I am impressed by the commitment you have made to the families who have suffered enough from this maniac.

  2. Thank you so much, Jan. When I was interviewed on the radio today, I made sure to emphasize how they are still suffering and how each is important. I told them if somehow the convictions had been overturned and a new trial was necessary, it would be nauseating for everyone. I am sorry that Apache's charge was thrown out, but that beautiful paint horse may yet get the last word.