Judge declares mistrial in Steven Jones' NAU shooting trialPosted: Updated:
A murder case against a former Northern Arizona University student in a 2015 shooting that killed one person and wounded three others ended in mistrial Tuesday after the jury deadlocked on the charges.
Steven Jones, 20, was charged with first-degree murder and lesser counts in a shooting that rattled the normally serene campus and forested city of Flagstaff. The shooting came days after a rampage at an Oregon community college left nine victims dead and brought heightened anxiety nationwide over campus violence.
[RAW VIDEO: Judge declares mistrial in NAU shooting trial]
The Arizona shooting ended up being a drunken late-night brawl between members of two fraternities that escalated into violence.
Prosecutors brought a first-degree murder case against Jones, but the jury also had to weigh the possibility of second-degree murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide, in addition to assault charges related to the three students who were wounded.
Jurors could not come to a consensus on the verdict. They sent word earlier Tuesday that they were deadlocked but resumed deliberations. They reported back to the judge later that they were still at an impasse.
"This court is therefore going to declare a mistrial in this case," Judge Dan Slayton said.
[Special section: NAU shooting]
The fight started after Jones and two pledges from his fraternity carried out a prank by ringing the doorbell of an apartment and running away. The prank set off a fight between Jones and students in the apartment from a rival fraternity, and Jones got punched in the face.
Jones went to his car, retrieved a .40-caliber handgun and opened fire. Jones, who was a freshman in the opening weeks of his first semester in college, said he was acting in self-defense when he shot Colin Brough, 20, in the chest and shoulder.
Prosecutors portrayed him as the aggressor and said he simply could have walked away without resorting to gunfire.
Jones had said he went back toward the group and fired his gun, but he didn't mean to hurt anyone. He testified he fired several shots "to stop the immediate threat that was coming at me."
Nicholas Piring, Nicholas Prato and Kyle Zeintek were wounded. None of the victims was armed.
Prosecutors now will have to decide whether to try Jones again for the October 2015 shooting. If prosecutors move forward, the judge says there will be a hearing in June and jury selection could start again in early August.
Brough, the victim, attended a high school in Annapolis, Maryland, where he played lacrosse, and graduated from a high school in Castle Rock, Colorado, in 2013.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the Prato family released the following statement about the mistrial.
"We are saddened by the current jury’s inability to come to a consensus in this trial but are given strength with the fact we have the truth on our side and that justice will prevail.
We can’t allow ourselves to believe in Coconino County you can leave an argument, go to your car and retrieve a gun, come back and shoot four unarmed college students, killing one and get to go home while the victims and witnesses suffer physical and emotional trauma and one family mourns the loss of their son.
Jones story has changed like the wind, and his defense team has lied, intimidated and harassed witnesses throughout this process. They have actively engaged the media to attempt to position their client in a positive light and win this case in the court of public opinion.
We have the truth on our side, and the truth will prevail in the end."
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