A rideshare driver, who said he was possessed by evil, has been sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to murdering six strangers in Michigan.
Jason Dalton, 48, confessed on Jan. 7 to killing six strangers in between picking-up passengers for Uber. He made the plea before attorneys had planned to interview jurors for his trial.
Dalton agreed to a series of questions from Judge Alexander Lipsey about whether he shot eight people at three locations. After his arrest, police quoted Dalton saying a “devil figure” on Uber’s app was controlling him on the days of the shootings.
According to Wikipedia, spirit possession is mentioned in several beliefs including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and African traditions. A 1969 study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health found spirit possession beliefs exist in 74 percent of a sample of 488 societies from around the world.
“Depending on the cultural context in which it is found, possession may be considered voluntary or involuntary and may be considered to have beneficial or detrimental effects on the host,” Wikipedia said.
Dalton had been deemed competent to stand trial and dropped an insanity plea. Despite his attorney’s objections he pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder, triggering a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance for parole.
“Yes, I’ve wanted this for quite a while,” Dalton said when the judge asked if his pleas were voluntary according to AP.
In between picking-up passengers, he shot dead four women in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant, including Barbara Hawthorne, Dorothy “Judy” Brown, Mary Lou Nye, and her sister-in-law Mary Jo Nye. He also shot Rich Smith and son Tyler Smith, 17, who died while looking at a pickup truck in a dealer’s lot.
Kopf, 14 at the time, was shot in the head at a restaurant yet survived. Tiana Carruthers was injured in a residential area.
Dalton, the father of two children, had worked as an insurance adjuster and had no previous criminal record before the shootings.
Prosecutor Jeff Getting said the motive behind the shootings is a question that “haunts us.”
“Everybody wants to know,” he said during a news conference after the court hearing according to AP.
Defence attorney Eusebio Solis said he advised Dalton not to plead guilty.
“In speaking to Mr. Dalton, there are reasons [for the plea],” Solis told the judge. “There are personal reasons for him. He does not want to put his family through that or the victims’ families through the trial. It’s his decision.”
By Richard Tyler