An Uber driver charged with killing six strangers in between picking up passengers pleaded guilty to murder in Michigan on Monday, just before attorneys were set to interview jurors for his trial.
Jason Dalton’s surprise move came more than three years after the shootings, which occurred over the course of a few hours in and around Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Dalton abruptly pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder – over his attorney’s objections – triggering the prospect of a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance for parole .
“Yes, I’ve wanted this for quite a while,” Dalton replied when a judge asked if the pleas were voluntary.
The 48-year-old Dalton answered “yes” to a series of questions, admitting that he shot eight people at three locations. After his arrest, police quoted Dalton as saying a “devil figure” on Uber’s app was controlling him on the day of the shootings.
Four women were killed outside a Cracker Barrel restaurant. And a father and his 17-year-old son were fatally shot while looking at a pickup truck at a dealership.
A 14-year-old girl was shot in the head during the restaurant shooting and survived, while an eighth person was injured in a residential area.
Dalton had been deemed competent to stand trial and last week dropped an insanity defense. In court, he didn’t explain why he randomly shot eight people.
Dalton, the father of two children, had worked as an insurance adjuster and had no previous criminal record before the shootings.
Prosecutor Jeff Getting said the motive behind the shootings is a question that “haunts us.”
“Everybody wants to know,” he said during a news conference after the court hearing.
Defense attorney Eusebio Solis said he advised Dalton not to plead guilty.
But he told the judge: “There are personal reasons for him. He does not want to put his family through that, or the victims’ families, through the trial. It’s his decision.”