Flagstaff Judge Rules Police Video of Suspect Inadmissible as “Prejudicial”

Photo Taken Days after the Shooting

By Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- The trial involving the Flagstaff shooting of a mob of drunken fraternity members who attacked an 18 year old pistol owner, is almost over.

The shooting occurred in October of 2015.  As of 27 April, 2017, the jury is considering the case.

A motion for mistrial by the defense has been refused by the trial judge, Dan Slayton.  Slayton previously took the unusual stance of ruling the police video from the scene as “prejudicial”.  In the video, a bloodied and hysterical 18 year old, Steven Jones, tells the police how glad he is they are there, and he thought he was going to die.

Then, in the closing arguments to the jury, the prosecutor claimed that Steven Jones, the shooter, never claimed self defense until he “had an audience at the police station”.

The defense cried foul. From azcentral.com:

Then, in the closing arguments to the jury, the prosecutor claimed that Steven Jones, the shooter, never claimed self defense until he “had an audience at the police station”. The defense cried foul. From azcentral.com:

A Coconino County Superior Court judge Thursday morning denied a mistrial for prosecutor misconduct in the Steven Jones murder trial.

But he ordered that the jury be given an instruction about inaccurate statements made by the prosecutor in his closing argument that would diminish Jones' claims of self-defense.

Before the trial began, prosecutors Ammon Barker and Bryan Shea convinced the judge to preclude statements Jones made to witnesses and police at the scene of the October 2015 shooting that left one student dead and three others wounded on the Northern Arizona University campus.

Immediately after the incident, Jones told another student that he acted in self-defense, and when he was in a police car after being detained, he was recorded on camera as saying, “Why were they going to hurt me?” and “I thought I was going to die.”

Consider if, in the police video, Steven Jones had said, “They were evil and deserved to die”. Do you think it would have been admitted as evidence? Want to take any bets?  Of course it would have been admitted, to show the shooters state of mind. But clear evidence of the shooter's state of mind, taken minutes after the shooting, was excluded, because it favored the defense.
The jury has been out for about a day. It hasn't turned in a verdict yet.  If it comes up with a guilty verdict, expect an appeal.
There is considerable punishment simply in the process.
The Coconino County Prosecutor's office is the same office that prosecuted Harold Fish.

I do not know who the prosecutor in this case is, but Michael J. Lessler is the Chief Deputy Attorney in Coconino County. He is the prosecutor who was in charge of the infamous Harold Fish case. Lessler claimed, for example, that Fish's use of a 10mm and hollowpoint bullet were somehow indications of malice.

An appeals court finally reversed and remanded Fish's conviction in 2009. Harold Fish had been in prison for three years. The Harold Fish prosecution was so over the top, it resulted in the Arizona legislature making three separate changes in Arizona law, to stop the abuses obvious in the case, and to insure that Harold Fish was able to obtain a new trial.

Fish died not long after being released from prison.

The shooting was originally covered in the media as a “school shooting”. That was the take before details started coming out that indicated a self defense case.

Things like the shooter immediately surrendering to police, and thanking them for being there.  Things like being outnumbered by a mob of drunken fraternity members (all the people shot had blood alcohol far beyond being legally drunk, and traces of marijuana). Things like the Steven Jones having no alcohol or drugs in his blood. The person who was killed was shot at a range of two feet or less, as he was moving toward Jones.

News coverage today is far more even than it was in the early days after the shooting.

The verdict will be very interesting.

If the verdict is not guilty, will the LA Times will issue a retraction over its early coverage?

We will know the verdict in a few days.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

Link to Gun Watch

 

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

  • 11 thoughts on “Flagstaff Judge Rules Police Video of Suspect Inadmissible as “Prejudicial”

    1. Well apparently Ammoland doesn’t like anything critical of the court system as they see fit not to post my comment to “Me”

      1. @oldvet, Sometimes it just takes awhile. The system is probably overloaded with replies to Gil and Twisted Sister after their last comments.

    2. @Me having been on jury duty. You are told in the selection process Not to discuss this case out side of this court room, your cannot talk about anything that was not covered in the court room during the trial. The last case I was on was a traffic accident. The lawyer for the defence was so hand cuffed he could not present a proper defence. He tried and was taken into the judges chambers and when he came out never said another word. This case had already been tried sueing the insurance co. This was a civil case against the driver. That settlement could not be discussed. It was on a rural road and the prosecutor was talking about lanes in the road and left of center etc. Out here in the country there are no lanes but they had a bunch of city people on the jury. I was so pissed I was barely able to get out of there and keep my mouth shut.

      1. My comment to “Me” is awaiting moderation. But jury nullification as you put it does happen !!!!! Maybe someday it will show up.

    3. The power of we the people in the Jury is to counter any biased Prosecutors or Biased Judges that intentionally omit helpful facts for a persons defense etc. or cancel them from promoting any UnConstitutional “regulation” or “law” in any case is JURY NULLIFICATION!!!

        1. We the People must be informed of this knowledge and power prior to being selected for jury duty so that it can be put to use when needed. One way to do this is to spread the use of it among everyone we know, but do not mention it before or during the jury selection process so that the procecutors, judges,etc. will not keep you off of the jury. Just keep it in mind during the trial for use when needed. Another way is to mention it in the online forums, run informative advertisements in news papers that will print it, etc. ….It’s just my opinion of the situation…

    4. Massad Ayoob has plenty of examples of just this sort of thing. The Hickey case in Tucson, AZ (2008) for example. Prosecutorial misconduct and suppression of evidence is nothing new.

    5. The people of Coconino County better get themselves some different prosecutors. Who knows who may be on trial next.

    6. I am a retired law police officer and this may be the biggest and most blatant case of prosecutorial misconduct I have ever heard of. For a prosecutor to ignore a key element of a case and then to present it as never having had happen is criminal in my opinion. When all is said and done he should be disbarred for his actions especially if the man is found guilty because of his actions.

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