Man charged with killing 6 in Kalamazoo will get mental exam

Jason Dalton will have a competency hearing to determine if he is fit to stand trial for the murder of 6 in Kalamazoo.
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A judge on Thursday granted a request for a competency exam for a man charged with killing six people during a series of random shootings in southwestern Michigan.

The review of Jason Dalton's mental health will delay the criminal case for at least two months as they determine if he's competent to stand trial.

Dalton, 45, is charged with murder and attempted murder for the Feb. 20 attacks. Police say he fatally shot four people outside a restaurant and a father and son at a car dealership in between driving people for Uber. Two people survived the shootings.

Afterwards, a prosecutor updated the public. You can watch a replay of that press conference here.

During Thursday's probable cause conference, the attorney for Dalton requested the exam for Dalton, who did not appear in court. Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting says the competency hearing won't reflect on his state of mind during the crimes.

"Competency to stand trial goes to his state of mind now. It's not reflective of his state of mind during the commission of these crimes," Getting said. He also added that his department has no knowledge of a history of mental illness.

The exam means a hearing scheduled for March 10 to determine if there is enough evidence to send Dalton to trial is postponed. The case will be reviewed again on May 10.

Dalton - a father of two, former insurance adjuster and Uber driver - is charged with murder, attempted murder and felony firearm for the random shooting spree last month that killed 6 people and seriously injured 2 others. That includes a 14-year-old girl who is still in the hospital on Thursday and her parents say she has now opened her eyes.

"I want to again offer my sympathy to the victims, family, and friends of the victims affected in this tragedy," Getting said.

Prosecutors say the exam has no bearing on a possible insanity defense and that Dalton is still innocent until proven guilty. In previous statements to Fox 2, police say Dalton was calm and did not appear remorseful when arrested. They said he even admitting that he "took people's lives."

As police await results of ballistic reports, prosecutors say a gun and other evidence has been seized, along with Dalton's cell phone. But Getting would not offer up a motive at this time.

"The technicians here at the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety's crime lab and the Michigan State Police were able to access information through his phone," Getting said. "All I can tell you is police continue to investigate. One of the many avenues of the investigation is to try and determine the 'why' for this, but I'm not at liberty to discuss it any further."

Dalton didn't know the victims. Investigators haven't disclosed a motive, although they've said Dalton has admitted his role in the shootings.

Solis has declined comment since his appointment as defense attorney last week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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