updated 7/28/2009 9:36:11 PM ET 2009-07-29T01:36:11

A man facing a possible death sentence in Phoenix's so-called serial shooting case told jurors Tuesday he pleaded guilty to two murders so he could testify against his partner in the random attacks.

"It was just too much — too much pain caused, too many innocent people hurt," Samuel Dieteman said during the penalty phase of his trial. "I just couldn't allow that to happen, to go unpunished."

The gunmen terrified Phoenix as they preyed on pedestrians, bicyclists and animals in a 14-month spree that left eight people dead and many more seriously wounded. The violence ended in August 2006 when both Dieteman and Dale Hausner were arrested at an apartment they shared.

Dieteman, 33, was a key witness against Hausner, 36, who was handed six death sentences earlier this year. Dieteman pleaded guilty to two killings.

But prosecutors asked him why, given statements of regret, he didn't come forward. Dieteman responded that he was afraid of how such a report would affect him.

Too late for redemption
Later, prosecutor Vince Imbordino said it was too late for Dieteman to redeem himself, telling jurors that he missed his chance to stop Hausner from killing.

He urged the panel — which must decide between the death penalty or life in prison — not to feel bound to impose the more lenient sentence.

Defense attorneys appealed for Dieteman's life during their closing arguments in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Citing the hymn "Amazing Grace," Quinn Jolly urged panelists to show Samuel Dieteman grace and save "the wretch he became."

"He can be a son to his mother. He can be a father to his daughter. He can be a grandfather to his grandson whom he has never touched. He can continue to reach out to others and answer questions," Jolly said.

Jolly said Dieteman, 33, would live in fear in prison because he has been labeled a snitch.

"Sam has brought himself threats from other inmates," Jolly said. "He's bought himself a one-way ticket to prison where he'll spend the rest of his life in an 8-by-10 cell."

The jury began its deliberations after the closing arguments but no decision was reached Tuesday.

City unnerved by killings
The serial shootings attacks and an unrelated serial killer case kept much of Phoenix unnerved during 2005 and 2006. Families stayed inside as police searched for the killers, and authorities called meetings that drew hundreds of people who learned more about the attacks and were encouraged to provide tips.

Police said Hausner attacked people from his car in a conspiracy that occasionally included Dieteman.

As the prosecution witness, Dieteman testified that he and Hausner cruised around late at night looking for strangers to shoot.

Dieteman said Hausner never explained why he wanted to shoot people, though Hausner professed a hatred for prostitutes and homeless people as they looked for victims in areas frequented by streetwalkers.

In the unrelated case, police attributed 23 more attacks, including nine slayings, to an assailant dubbed the Baseline Killer.

Mark Goudeau was arrested and charged with those killings in September 2006, and still faces trial.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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