Kalamazoo Shooting Spree

For victims' families, trial date for Jason Dalton is welcome news

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — After three years, the trial for the man accused of murder after a shooting eight people in one evening in 2016, killing six, is slated to begin in January.

Three years is a long time for a murder trial to be delayed in Michigan. But this case has been delayed by psychiatric exams of suspect Jason Dalton and appeals by both the defense and prosecution.

On Friday, Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting decided not to an appeal a decision that did not go his way finally sending the case to a jury trial.

“I think everyone is unanimous that it’s time for justice to be done,” Getting said.

The prosecution decided not to take an appeals court decision to the State Supreme Court even though the decision takes statements by Dalton that were tantamount to a confession from them.

The decision said that the statements made by Dalton to investigators came after he said he did not want to talk and asked for a lawyer.

The prosecution argued that Dalton’s statements were made either under an exemption that allows for questioning when there is an imminent threat or came after he agreed to talk, thereby waiving his right to avoid self-incrimination.

“Ultimately, we’re confident in the case that we have, we’re confident that we convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt of Mr. Dalton’s guilt with or without the statement,” Getting said.

Getting says the trial will likely take two weeks and will include substantial scientific and technical evidence from the Michigan State Police lab and elsewhere.

“It’s gonna take a substantial number of witnesses to just lay the foundation for all that scientific evidence that we have,” Getting said.

When the crime occurred in February of 2016, it made headlines internationally, so there will be attention paid to getting an impartial jury seated.

“There’s a lot of attention that was paid to this case, I expect a lot of attention to be paid to it when we do the trial but I’m also confident that we can pick a fair and impartial jury in this community,” Getting said

This is a glimmer of good news for Laurie Smith, whose 17-year-old son Tyler and husband Richard were gunned down as they browsed at a car dealership, but she has learned over three years that delay is part of the process.

“I’ll be pleased if it doesn’t move, but I’m not holding my breath,” Smith said.

Smith is OK with the delays because she believes police and prosecutors are being thorough.

“I am 110 percent sure they have everything they need to prove that he did kill all those people and gravely hurt two,” Smith said.

She wants the jury to pay attention to the show and not to the expected insanity defense.

“Which is the show that he’s gonna try to pretend like he’s insane and that sort of thing because we know that he’s not,” Smith said.

She is braced for a grueling experience, but she plans to be there for her son and husband.

 “I will get through it by the grace of God just like I’ve gotten through every day since Feb. 20th, 2016,” she said.

The prosecution will ask the jury to convict on multiple counts of first-degree murder, but the jury could also find him guilty of second-degree which allows for the possibility of parole after 25 years. Manslaughter will likely not be on the table.

“Let’s get this done on behalf of the victims.” Getting said.

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