PHOENIX – A man who was arrested as a suspect in one of the city's two serial killer investigations pleaded guilty Tuesday to aggravated assault, and prosecutors dropped an attempted murder charge.
Jeff Hausner, 40, had previously pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and aggravated assault charges stemming from the April 14 stabbing of a homeless man.
Hausner faces a maximum of nearly nine years in prison when he is sentenced April 20.
Hausner's brother, Dale, is charged with seven counts of murder in a shooting spree that police said wounded at least 17 people and left seven others dead. His alleged accomplice, Samuel Dieteman, is charged in two of the killings.
Investigators said the stabbing of the homeless man was linked to the "Serial Shooter" case, but have not specified the link.
Jeff Hausner did not agree to testify in the case against his brother and Dieteman as part of the plea agreement, prosecutor Vince Imbordino said.
His lawyer, Candice Shoemaker, said Hausner wanted the case resolved.
"He didn't want to go to trial given that the top charge was attempted murder, a charge which carries substantially more (prison) time," Shoemaker said.
Hausner spoke only three words during the hearing before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Andrew Klein.
"Guilty, your honor," he said.
Shoemaker said she believes it is inaccurate to connect the case with the Serial Shooter crimes, even though police have done so.
The cases are only connected "because of the presence of Mr. Dieteman," she said. "Jeff feels he was wrapped into everything that was going on."
Investigators haven't been more specific about that link.
They spent weeks looking into his involvement after arresting Dale Hausner and Dieteman last August as part of the serial killer investigation. Investigators said Dale Hausner and Dieteman cruised Phoenix area streets late at night in a car, randomly blasting at people with shotguns.
Shortly after he was arrested, Jeff Hausner said he didn't do anything wrong.
"Neither did Dale," Jeff Hausner told reporters last year before entering the county jail. "We're both innocent."
Police said Jeff Hausner attacked the homeless man after the man approached Hausner and Dieteman outside a supermarket.
When the man asked Hausner for money, Hausner said "Yeah, just a minute" and turned his back, according to authorities. Instead of turning around with cash, Hausner pulled out a knife and stabbed the man in the stomach.
Police said Dieteman had nothing to do with the stabbing.
The Serial Shooter attacks are thought to have started May 17, 2005, with the fatal shooting of Tony Mendez, who was riding his bicycle at night along a downtown street.
For months, a task force of more than 100 investigators scoured the streets in search of clues.