Dale Hausner, convicted of six murders and a number of other crimes in a series of random shootings in 2005 and 2006, died Wednesday at Florence-area hospital after he was found unresponsive in his prison cell, according to the Arizona Department of corrections.
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In March 2009, Hausner was convicted of 80 crimes, including six counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated murder, cruelty to animals and other charges. He was given the death penalty after his conviction.
According to the department of corrections, Hausner was found in his cell just after 12 p.m., and staff and medical responders administered CPR to Hausner before he was transported Florence Hospital at Anthem. He was pronounced dead at 1:15 p.m., according to the department of corrections.
A cause of death is not known at this time.
Authorities said during Hausner's trial that he preyed on pedestrians, bicyclists, dogs and horses in attacks that began in May 2005 and ended in August 2006 with the arrests of Hausner and his roommate at their apartment in Mesa. Inside, police found guns, news clippings of the killings and a city map marked with the locations of some of the shootings.
The 'serial shooter' attacks and an unrelated serial killer case -- what would become known as the case of the 'Baseline Killer' -- kept Valley neighborhood watch groups on high alert in the summer of 2006. Families stayed inside as police searched for the killers, and authorities called meetings that drew hundreds of people who learned more about the attacks and were encouraged to provide tips.
Police said Hausner attacked people from his car in a conspiracy that occasionally included his brother, and his former roommate, Samuel Dieteman.
Dieteman, the star prosecution witness, testified that he and Dale Hausner had cruised around late at night looking for strangers to shoot.
Taking the stand in his own defense, Hausner denied any involvement in the attacks, offered alibis and suggested that Dieteman may have carried out some of the attacks.
Dieteman said Hausner never explained why he wanted to shoot people though Hausner professed a hatred for prostitutes and homeless people as they looked for victims in areas frequented by streetwalkers.
In one attack, Dieteman said he and Hausner found the sight of a victim wounded by Hausner to be funny, because they didn’t think he was seriously injured, even though the victim was holding his stomach and appeared angry.
Later that night, Dieteman said he committed his first shooting after spotting a woman walking on a sidewalk in Scottsdale.
“’It’s your turn, dude,’” Dieteman quoted Hausner as saying.
The victim, 20-year-old restaurant worker Claudia Gutierrez-Cruz, was attacked after stepping off a bus on her way home from work and later died at a hospital.
Two months before their arrests, Dieteman said he saw Hausner wound a man with a shotgun blast. Dieteman said they doubled back in Hausner’s car to see whether the victim was dead and returned to the scene to tell police that they lived nearby and were looking for a lost cat.
The men were considered witnesses at the time. Hausner told jurors he came across victim James Hodge in their search for the animal and stuck around to talk to an officer.
Police said their big break came when one of Dieteman’s drinking buddies, Ron Horton, called police to say that Dieteman had bragged about shooting people. “They called it 'RV’ing.’ Random Recreational Violence,” Horton told The Associated Press in a 2006 interview.
In his testimony, Hausner portrayed himself as a busy divorced father of a sick daughter, a bachelor who had several girlfriends and a go-getter with side jobs in stand-up comedy, bartending and boxing photography. He made an appearance in a TV commercial for a personal injury law firm.
Check with the Tribune for more information as it develops.