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Phoenix Serial Shooter sentenced to life in prison

Samuel Dieteman, who pleaded guilty to two of six killings in the 2005-06 shooting rampage and testified against his partner, is spared the death penalty.

July 30, 2009|Associated Press

PHOENIX — A jury spared a man convicted in a series of random nighttime shootings from the death penalty on Wednesday, sentencing him to life in prison.

Samuel Dieteman, who pleaded guilty to two of six murders in the metropolitan Phoenix Serial Shooter case of 2005 and 2006, appeared stoic as the jury's decision was announced.

"I'm truly sorry for the pain that I've caused to many, many people," Dieteman, 33, said after his sentence was read. He thanked the court for treating him like a human being.

His lawyer and relatives cried as the verdict was read.

Authorities say Dieteman and Samuel Hausner, 36, preyed on pedestrians, bicyclists and animals in attacks that ended in August 2006 when both men were arrested at the apartment they shared in Mesa, Ariz. Six people were killed and 19 wounded.

Dieteman and Hausner met in April 2006 -- about nine months after the attacks began. Dieteman's attorneys painted him as Hausner's follower.

Paul Patrick, a victim of the shooting rampage who nearly died when he was shot while walking down a street in June 2006, was in court and said he agreed with the verdict.

"It's not a cause to celebrate; a mother just lost a son, and children lost their father," he said of Dieteman's family. "No hatred for the family. Too much time has been wasted on that."

Dieteman, who had been charged with murdering two people and attacking 14 others, admitted to fatally shooting Claudia Gutierrez-Cruz, 20, in Scottsdale in May 2006 and assisting in the deadly shooting of Robin Blasnek, 22, two months later as she walked from her parents' home to her boyfriend's house in Mesa.

Prosecutors had urged the death penalty. They described Dieteman as a drifter who was a willing participant, pulling the trigger and serving as Hausner's lookout.

Dieteman's lawyers asked jurors to consider his testimony as a key witness against Hausner, who received six death sentences and hundreds of years in prison earlier this year.

Testimony at Dieteman's sentencing trial included a written apology from Dieteman to Patrick, in which he said he would make "no cries for mercy." He also said he regretted his actions, including not turning Hausner in when he first learned of the shootings.

"There's so many things I would change back then," he told jurors.

Dieteman's attorneys had argued that a life sentence would be punishment enough, saying he would be one of the most notorious snitches in prison. Hausner's attorneys accused Dieteman of lying to avoid the death penalty, but Dieteman said he wanted to help punish Hausner.

Prosecutors called Dieteman's cooperation too little, too late.

Investigators said their big break came when one of Dieteman's drinking buddies, Ron Horton, called police to say Dieteman had bragged about shooting people. "They called it 'RV-ing': Random Recreational Violence," Horton told the Associated Press in a 2006 interview. Horton died last year.

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