KALAMAZOO, Mich. The Michigan Uber driver charged with murdering six people last month in a shooting spree in the southwestern part of the state will undergo a competency exam, the prosecuting attorney said on Thursday.
Jason Dalton, 45, is charged with shooting eight people, killing six of them, over a five-hour period on Feb. 20 in between driving customers for the Uber car service in Kalamazoo, Michigan, about 150 miles (240 km) west of Detroit. Dalton faces 16 charges, including six of murder that can bring life in prison.
A judge granted a request by Dalton's attorney for a competency exam for the suspect, Kalamazoo County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey Getting told reporters following a 45-minute probable-cause hearing that was closed to the public.
Dalton's attorney, Eusebio Solis, declined to comment after the hearing at the Kalamazoo County 8th District Court.
A status conference has been scheduled for May 10, but depending on when the competency exam is completed, a hearing could take place sooner, Getting said.
Getting said weighing a person's competency to stand trial had no bearing on his criminal responsibility for a crime and that the move was not to determine whether Dalton was legally insane.
With the police investigation continuing, Getting declined to discuss Dalton's motive. Getting also declined to say whether Dalton is on any kind of suicide watch.
Dalton is being held in Kalamazoo County Jail. Bail was denied last week after a court hearing in which a detective testified that Dalton had admitted to the shooting rampage.
A lawyer for Dalton's wife, Carole, said Jason Dalton had been depressed in the days before the shooting spree, but offered no further explanation. Dalton's family has previously said they were devastated by the news and saddened for the victims and their families.
Carole Dalton subsequently filed for divorce. The couple have been married since 1995 and have a 15-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter.
(Reporting by Mark Wedel; Writing by Ben Klayman; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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