FLAGSTAFF, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- Accused NAU shooter Steven Jones reached a plea agreement in the Coconino County Superior Court in Flagstaff Thursday afternoon. As part of the plea deal, Jones pleaded guilty to manslaughter and three counts of aggravated assault. The plea deal calls for a five- to 10-year sentence instead of up to 25 years that he faced if he was convicted in trial.
[WATCH: What this plea deal means]
Jones, who was a freshman at NAU at the time, is accused of murder and aggravated assault in the October 2015 shooting on the Northern Arizona University campus. The incident was sparked when Jones and two pledges from his fraternity got into a fight with members of a rival fraternity.
Jones, now 23 years old, has acknowledged firing the shots that killed 20-year-old Colin Brough and injured three other students. But while Jones maintained he fired in self-defense, prosecutors have said he unnecessarily retrieved a gun from his car and was the aggressor in the incident.
At the time, then-Coconino County Attorney Ammon Barker told jurors that there was no reason for Jones to go to his car and get his gun because he could have simply called for help or driven away. "What the defendant did was not an accident," Barker said. "It was not self-defense. It was aggravated assault and premeditated murder."
But Jones' defense attorney, Joshua Davidson, told the jury at the time that Jones' life was in danger and that he had no other option but to use deadly force. "This is not about an assassin emerging from the dark on a rampage," Davidson said. "This is a case about an 18-year-old kid who was just a couple of weeks into his college career, a freshman, and he found himself in situation where he was assaulted, bullied, threatened and attacked. And he did what he had to do to protect himself."
Even though Jones' case went to trial, the jury was unable to come to an agreement. The judge declared a mistrial on May 2, 2017. Jones' retrial has been rescheduled five times. His latest trial date was supposed to come in 2020.
The most recent delay came when two of Jones’ attorneys withdrew from the case after receiving a low-level sanction from a state Supreme Court committee for representing a victim early on in the case and, later, Jones.
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