Family of NAU shooting victim speaks out in court; suspect to remain jailed

Posted: Updated:
NAU shooting suspect Steven Jones in court on Feb. 19, 2016  (Source: Pool feed) NAU shooting suspect Steven Jones in court on Feb. 19, 2016 (Source: Pool feed)
Steven Jones (Northern Arizona University) Steven Jones (Northern Arizona University)
PHOENIX (AP) -

The man charged in the fatal shooting of a Northern Arizona University student will remain jailed, but a judge left open the possibility of home confinement.

Steven Jones claims he acted in self-defense when he opened fire on the Flagstaff campus last October, killing Colin Brough and injuring three other students. Prosecutors say he wasn't justified in using lethal force, painting him as a loose cannon who chose to introduce a gun into a largely verbal fight.

Jones' attorneys asked Coconino County Superior Court Judge Dan Slayton on Friday to release Jones to the custody of his parents, citing his lack of criminal history and no desire to flee. Slayton denied the motion but said he'd reconsider once he has more information on around-the-clock monitoring, access to weapons, potential searches of the Jones' home and the availability of counseling.

"This aspect about the danger Mr. Jones presents, it's really he has no history and took this action that night that causes me more concern than anything," Slayton said.

Brough's mother, Claudia, made a tearful plea to Slayton to keep Jones behind bars. With her hands clenched, trembling and sobbing, she told Slayton what she believed her son would have said: "We don't solve our problems with pulling out a gun. It's not an option."

Brough spoke directly to Jones as he sat in his jail blues with a blank stare on his face.

"Every time I hear a siren go off, it doesn't matter if its in the morning, if its in the afternoon, at night, whenever, I think of my boy laying in that parking lot," said Brough.

[Special Section: NAU shooting]

A pretrial services report found that Jones is at the lowest risk of re-offending, Slayton said. That didn't quell the fear of Nicholas Piring and Nicholas Prato, two of the shooting victims who testified at Friday's hearing.

"He attempted to take my life once," Prato said. "Please protect all of us. Keep him in police custody."

"As a victim and witness of this crime, I don't feel safe with him being released to his parents who have weapons in their home," said Prato.

"His parents gave him the gun that shot me twice, that shot Nicholas Prato, that was up here in the neck that killed Colin that shot Kyle in the back twice. It's a no-brainer honestly," said Piring.

Kyle Zientek, the other student injured, didn't appear at the hearing. His lawyer said he was studying abroad.

Jones, wearing thick-rimmed black glasses and a blue jumpsuit, kept his hands clasped in his lap during much of the hearing. He occasionally glanced around at reporters sitting in the jury box. His family was seated behind him.

Earlier Friday, Slayton denied a motion to send Jones' case back to the grand jury without elaborating on the ruling. Brough is charged with one count of first-degree murder and six counts of aggravated assault.

Jones' attorneys argued that prosecutors presented a biased case, downplaying Jones' injuries from being punched in the face by an unidentified person and tackled, and mischaracterized witness statements.

Prosecutors accused defense attorneys of cherry-picking statements in arguing for reconsideration by a grand jury. They said scrapes on Jones' body, a split lip and red marks were superficial at best, and that the evidence was presented fairly and impartially.

© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 

  • Social Connect

  • Contact

    AZ Family