KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Evidence in Jason Dalton’s trial, the man accused of opening fire on eight people at three locations in the Kalamazoo area in February 2016, could be tossed over Miranda rights.
Dalton, 46, of Cooper Township, faces 16 criminal counts in the shooting rampage, including six counts of murder and two of attempted murder.
Dalton’s defense team has filed a motion to suppress statements he made to investigators after his arrest, but the prosecution wants them to be admitted as evidence.
While the prosecution admits police did somewhat press Dalton for information that night, they maintain the interrogation was constitutional and a matter of public safety.
Bill Moorian, a detective with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, testified in Kalamazoo County Court on Thursday saying he read Dalton his rights and the shooting suspect assured him that he understood them. However the defense pointed out that Dalton said things like “I’d rather not say” or brought up his right to remain silent.
The detective said the questioning continued after Dalton claimed he couldn’t remember if there were more suspects or victims.
When the detective asked if he felt the people of Kalamazoo County were safe, he replied, “Absolutely not.”
Michigan State Police also interviewed Dalton the night he was arrested. The MSP special sergeant who interviewed Dalton after the KDPS detective says he never asked Dalton to talk about the shooting. He says they discussed a common interest in German shepherds before Dalton asked to talk to him about the shooting.
The sergeant said he asked his supervisor if that would be okay and then read Dalton his rights and asked him to repeat what those rights mean to him.
The defense fired back saying the the sergeant somewhat tricked Dalton into emphasizing and talking after he already said he didn’t want to. However, the prosecution says there’s a public safety exception to Miranda rights.
The judge said he will review transcripts and video and then make a ruling by April 20.
Police reports say that Dalton, who was working as an Uber driver the night of the shooting spree, told investigators that a “devil” showed up on his Uber app and controlled his body. He said the app would make different noises to tell him who he should kill. None of the victims were his passengers.
Six people were killed in the Feb. 20, 2016 shooting spree: Judy Brown, Barbara Hawthorne, Mary Jo Nye, Mary Lou Nye, and father and son Rich and Tyler Smith.
Two others, Tiana Carruthers and now-15-year-old Abigail Kopf, were seriously hurt but survived and continue to recover.
>>Inside woodtv.com: Complete coverage of the Kalamazoo shooting rampage
Dalton is pleading insanity. His trial is scheduled to start June 13 and is expected to last two weeks.
Plans are in the works to create a large memorial park and monument to honor the lives lost in and affected by the shooting spree.