Dalton to have competency exam

Francis X. Donnelly
The Detroit News

Kalamazoo — A part-time Uber driver charged with killing six people will receive a mental competency exam within the next two months.

The exam, which will determine whether Jason Dalton is fit to stand trial, was ordered Thursday by a Kalamazoo County District judge.

Dalton’s attorney, Eusebio Solis, sought the exam during a preliminary examination conference Thursday, saying Dalton doesn’t seem to understand the case against him.

After the conference, which wasn’t open to the media, Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting said he didn’t oppose the competency evaluation.

“It’s so we can make sure we proceed fairly against the defendant,” he said.

Dalton, 45, will be examined at the state Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Ann Arbor at an undetermined date.

A written report of the exam’s results must be presented to the court within two months, ordered District Judge Tiffany Ankley.

The next court hearing for Dalton was scheduled for May 10 in Kalamazoo County District Court.

Getting said he couldn’t discuss specifics of the criminal investigation, but he acknowledged its emotional impact on the city.

“It’s been an extremely difficult couple of weeks for everyone involved,” he said.

Dalton, who didn’t attend the conference Thursday, is being held without bond in the Kalamazoo County Jail.

He is facing 16 charges, including six murder counts.

Dalton is accused of shooting eight people, killing six, in three incidents over a five-hour period on Feb. 20.

The reason for the shooting isn’t known.

Between the three shooting incidents, Dalton drove Uber passengers around town, said police and passengers.

Killed in the attacks were Mary Lou Nye, 62, of Baroda; Richard Smith, 53, and his son Tyler, 17, of Mattawan; and Mary Jo Nye, 60, Dorothy “Judy” Brown, 74, and Barbara Hawthorne, 68, all of Battle Creek.

The other two victims, Abigail Kopf, 14, and Tiana Carruthers, 25, are doing better at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, said the hospital. Their conditions have improved to fair.

FDonnelly@detroitnews.com

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Twitter:@francisXdonnell