Calls from a killer: Jason Dalton explains guilty plea

Kalamazoo Shooting Spree

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Jail phone call recordings obtained by 24 Hour News 8 have revealed why mass murderer Jason Dalton ended his trial before it even started.

Dalton was in the Kalamazoo County Jail for nearly three years awaiting trial for killing six people and critically wounding two others during a shooting spree in Kalamazoo on Feb. 20, 2016. During his time in jail, he made dozens of phone calls that the sheriff’s office recorded.

24 Hour News 8 obtained the recordings through an open records request on Friday.

The day before Dalton pleaded guilty to all the charges against him, he spoke with his mom, the records show.

“I’m very sorry for the trouble that I’ve caused,” he said.

Dalton told his mom he didn’t understand why the prosecution wouldn’t offer him a plea bargain.

“I just wanted you to know that… they won’t allow me to respectfully bow out or take anything,” he said. “They want to have a trial no matter what, with live coverage.”

Dalton was unhappy about going to trial and the publicity surrounding it.

“I just wanted you to know that…it’s not driven by me, and it’s not driven by my (inaudible), you know, my defense attorney,” Dalton told his mom in the recorded call. “They simply, there seems to be something between the judge and the prosecutor… that they’re wanting to go forward with it and they want it to… be filmed like the O.J. trial.”

“Why don’t we just get a red and white circus tent and put it up in front of the courthouse and get a couple rings, and let me be a dancing monkey for everybody, because that’s exactly the way I feel about it,” Dalton said at one point, according to the recordings.

His mom urged him to plead guilty.

The next day, Dalton called his mom after doing exactly that.

“Mom, it, it’s over. I stopped it,” he said.

Dalton made another call to an unknown woman after pleading guilty. And for the first time, he came close to talking about the question everyone wants answered: Why did he do it?

But then he quickly backed away.

“It’s, it’s over,” he said. “I stopped this circus train… I didn’t want to agree to the premeditated, because that day I did not set out that day to premeditate to do anything like that at all.”

Dalton also said on the recordings that he was growing tired of being in the small Kalamazoo County Jail and was looking forward to going to prison.

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