Fate of accused NAU shooter Steven Jones in jury's hands

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The fate of a former Northern Arizona University student accused in a campus shooting is now in the hands of 12 jurors. 

Steven Jones faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. However, jurors have several options. They can find Jones guilty of several lesser charges; second-degree murder, manslaughter, or negligent homicide. Jones is also charged with six counts of aggravated assault.

[Special section: NAU shooting]

The prosecution and defense spent Tuesday giving their closing arguments, painting a picture of what they claim happened in October 2015 when Jones and two friends were confronted by students outside a party.

“The defendant couldn’t wait to shoot his gun,” said prosecutor Ammon Barker.

Prosecutors told jurors Jones wanted to enact “his own deranged sense of justice.” Barker claimed Jones was bent on retaliation after one of the partygoers punched him in the face.

“His first thought was to arm himself with a weapon and show whoever was out there who had the power,” said Barker.

He told jurors that Jones exaggerated the threat he felt that night when testifying in his defense last week.

“The defendant claims he heard the word kill numerous times,” said Barker. “Did you hear anyone else describe that situation? That somebody said the word kill? No.”

Prosecutors told jurors retaliation equaled premeditation.

When the defense began its closing argument, 20-year-old Jones appeared to wipe tears from his face.

“You don’t need a weapon in your hand to threaten someone’s life,” said defense attorney Burges McCowan.

McCowan said Jones and his two friends were chased by a drunken “mob” who were “brazen” enough to not back down when Jones returned with a gun.

“They created this environment; they created this chaotic scene by attacking these three young freshmen.”

The defense reinforced the argument that victim Colin Brough had lunged at Jones, and Jones had no choice but to shoot.

“The white shirt charging was Brough,” said McCowan. “There might have been other guys in white shirts running around, but the white shirt charging the moment Steven had to shoot was Brough.”

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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