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Dalton to use insanity defense in Kalamazoo trial

Francis X. Donnelly
The Detroit News

Kalamazoo — A man charged with killing six people during a shooting spree in February is heading back to a psychiatrist.

The first time Jason Dalton went to the Michigan Center for Forensic Psychiatry, it was to assess his current state of mind, to see if could assist in his defense.

This time, the center will delve into his state of mind during the alleged shootings, to see if he knew the difference between right and wrong.

The latest exam was prompted by Dalton’s attorney’s plan to present an insanity defense in his upcoming trial in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court.

The attorney, Eusebio Solis, announced the move during a pretrial conference Monday in the chambers of Circuit Judge Alexander Lipsey.

The conference was closed to the media but Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting described what happened during a news conference afterward.

Solis has a week to file a notice of intent to present an insanity defense, and the center will have two months to perform the evaluation, said Getting.

Once the center presents its findings, the defense and prosecution may challenge it and perform their own evaluation.

Getting said he was likely to ask for his own test if the center found Dalton mentally incompetent.

He said he wasn’t surprised by the defense decision to pursue an insanity defense.

“It wasn’t a surprise at all,” he said. “This is where I expected the case to go from the very beginning.”

Solis wasn’t available for comment.

A status conference was scheduled for Aug. 15 to check on the results of the latest psychological exam.

During the first exam at the center, doctors found that Dalton was mentally competent to aid in his defense.

District Judge Tiffany Ankley ruled in April that Dalton was competent because he understood the charges and possible punishment against him, and he was able to assist his attorney in his defense.

Dalton, 45, is charged with killing six people and wounding two during three shooting incidents over a five-hour period Feb. 20.

The case was sent to circuit court last month after a district court judge ruled that prosecutors had presented sufficient evidence during a probable cause hearing.

The probable cause hearing last month was marked by Dalton’s frequent interruptions of testimony by one of the shooting victims, Tiana Carruthers.

When the shackled Dalton tried to rise from his seat at the defense table, District Judge Christopher Haenicke kicked him out of the courtroom and he watched the rest of the hearing through a video link at the county jail.

Dalton has told investigators the shootings were caused by an Uber app on his cellphone. He said the app turned into a devil’s head and controlled his actions during the rampage.

Dalton, who is being held without bond in the Kalamazoo County Jail, is facing 16 charges, including six murder counts.

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, Carruthers, 25, and Abigail Kopf, 14, are recovering from their injuries.

fdonnelly@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4186

Twitter: @francisXdonnell