Former Uber driver Jason Dalton pleaded guilty for killing six people between picking up rides as an Uber driver. He also pleaded guilty for shooting two other victims, both of whom survived.
The plea came as a surprise to the court because jury selection for Dalton’s trial was about to get underway this week. It was evident that Dalton will face trial but he recently dropped a guilty plea. Dalton’s guilty plea wasn’t part of any deal negotiated with prosecutors and his attorney reportedly advised him against it.
Before the killing spree, Dalton had an impressive Uber score of 4.7 out of 5. In February of 2016, he picked up passengers in between shootings at three locations near Kalamazoo, Michigan. Riders later described those rides as terrifying and explained that Dalton was weaving in and out of oncoming traffic while going 80 miles per hour.
Michigan state police said he shot one woman multiple times in a townhouse parking lot, but she survived. Several hours later, Dalton allegedly shot and killed a father and son at a car dealership. Less than 20 minutes later, he allegedly shot five people in a Cracker Barrel parking lot, killing four women and critically injuring a 14-year-old girl.
On social media, the spate of killings made an instant headline and one of the last passengers that Dalton picked up before he was arrested even reportedly joked with the driver, “You’re not the shooter, are you?” As the answer, Dalton allegedly said no.
Dalton’s attorney, Eusebio Solis said that he strictly advised Dalton to not plead guilty, but Dalton had reasons for his decisions. “I’ve been practising law for 30 years and have never pleaded to life in prison without parole,” Solis said.
According to the defence attorney, discussion for pleading guilty in court has been taken place for months. Solis said that over the weekend he has spent more than an hour with Dalton talking about the decision.
“He is doing that against my advice, your honor,” Solis said. “But, in speaking to Mr Dalton, there are reasons for that. 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; against my advice.”
Dalton told the judge while pleading guilty, “I’ve wanted to do this for quite a while.”
Despite the guilty plea, it still remains a mystery that why Jason Dalton did what he did and went on to kill 6 innocent people. Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said, “I don’t know whether there will ever be a satisfactory answer as to why he did it … the ‘why’ question is one that haunts us.”
Earlier that day Dalton went to a gun shop to buy a jacket with an inside pocket designed to hold a gun. Jon Southwick, the owner of the gun shop said he was laughing and joking when came to his shop and also gave him a one-arm hug before he left.
When arrested, Dalton said that he was being controlled by the Uber app through his cellphone and that app was choosing the riders for him. According to him, a “devil figure” led him to shoot the strangers and he was constantly receiving messages from that figure. He also mentioned that he felt something like an “artificial intelligence”.
As a result of pleading guilty, Dalton will be sentenced on February 5.