Jason Dalton, 48, has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the murder of six strangers he shot dead during a rampage in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 2016 (Joel Bissel/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP)
An Uber driver in Michigan was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole after admitting to killing six strangers during a shooting rampage in 2016.
Jason Dalton, 48, pleaded guilty to six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder earlier this month in an effort to spare his victims’ families the further trauma of a trial, according to his lawyer. While working as an Uber driver in Kalamazoo, Dalton told investigators, the ride-sharing app possessed him and told him who to shoot.
Over the course of five hours on Feb. 20, 2016, he shot eight people in three different locations.
He first pulled in to a residential area, shooting Tiana Carruthers, 25, while she shielded children from his bullets. He struck 14-year-old Abigail Kopf in the head, but she survived from her injuries.
In the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant, he unloaded his weapon, killing Barbara Hawthorne, Dorothy “Judy” Brown, Mary Lou Nye and her sister-in-law, Mary Jo Nye. Rich Smith and his 17-year-old son, Tyler Smith, were fatally shot while looking at a pickup truck in a nearby dealer’s lot.
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Emily Lemmer, whose father, Rich Smith, and brother, Tyler, 17, were killed, addresses Jason Dalton before he was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday (Joel Bissell/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP)
Dalton, a father of two who is said to have had no prior criminal record, on Tuesday listened to impact statements by victims’ kin.
“Someday when you die and you face God, he will make the ultimate judgment for what you’ve done,” said Laurie Smith, who lost her husband and son in the February 2016 rampage. “All I can say is, I do not want to be you — not now and not then.”
Laurie’s daughter, Emily Lemmer, also spoke at the sentencing hearing. “Living without (them) is impossible,” she said of her brother and father, whose ashes she carried as she walked down the aisle of her wedding alone a few months after their deaths.
“I would not want to be you, ever, but especially when you meet our maker,” she said.
Tiana Carruthers, having survived Dalton’s attack, was present during his sentencing hearing to speak as well. Throughout her speech, she tried to get the killer to look at her. During Dalton’s preliminary trial in May 2016, he was dragged out of the courtroom after interrupting Carruthers’ testimony with an emotional outburst, according to WOOD-TV.
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Shooting survivor, Tiana Carruthers, addresses Jason Dalton during his sentencing. She shielded children while Dalton unloaded his weapon at her (Joel Bissel/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP)
“I see pain in your hatred,” she said on Tuesday. “I hate myself for hating you.”
Dalton’s defense attorney, Eusebio Solis, previously pursued an insanity defense, a strategy that was abandoned with Dalton’s guilty plea.
Prosecutor Jeff Getting told Dalton during his sentencing that he estimates the man will live another 25 to 30 years – amounting to thousands of days.
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“Ten thousand days (in prison) doesn’t come close to what you deserve,” Getting said. “I wish somehow it could be more. You deserve more.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.