By Dean Weingarten
Jones and two of his friends were attacked after midnight on Friday, October 9, 2015. Jones was sucker punched and chased toward his car. He retrieved a pistol and went back to aid his friends who were on the ground.
The shooting occurred in October of 2015. A mistrial was declared by the judge on 2 May, 2017.
A motion for mistrial by the defense was refused by the trial judge, Dan Slayton. on 27 April. 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 that they are there, and that he thought he was going to die.
Then, in the closing arguments, the prosecution claimed that Steven Jones had never claimed self defense until he was at the police station. The defense called for a mistrial over this false assertion. Judge Slayton ruled that a transcript of some of Jones statements in the video would be allowed to be shown to the jury, to offset the bad information put forward by the prosecution.
Two days later, the Judge declared a mistrial due to a hung jury.
To watch the video, click here.
Here is the officer body camera video taken at the scene, minutes after the shooting.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The judge in the Steven Jones NAU shooting trial has ruled for a mistrial. The jury could not come to a consensus.
The jury in the trial of Steven Jones, the NAU shooter, told Judge Dan Slayton that it could not reach a consensus of guilty or not guilty in the case.The retrial is set begin Aug. 1, according to Judge Slayton, but he acknowledged that is likely to change. Attorney James Goodnow said a plea deal could be in play for this case, and the prosecution may consider seeking a conviction on lesser charges than first-degree murder.
It should be noted that the Fraternity group that attacked Steven Jones and his friends were all drunk at multiple levels above the legal definition of .09. Brough (the man shot and killed only two feet from the muzzle of Jones pistol) had about three times the legal limit (.285 of alcohol). He also had a history of drug use, and traces of other drugs in his system. From azcentral.com:
Colin Brough, who was killed, had a blood alcohol content of 0.285, which is 3½ times the legal limit. He tested positive as well for marijuana and a Valium-like drug called alprazolam.
In court filings, experts for both sides cited studies that suggest alcohol can loosen inhibitions and lead to violent behavior, and that alprazolam can enhance the effect of alcohol. However, they disagreed as to how Brough might have reacted to the combination of substances.
Steven Jones was sober, with no traces of alcohol or drugs.
Immediately after the shooting, Steven Jones yelled to his friends to call 911.
So what happened the the man who started all the violence by sucker punching Jones in the face? He confessed to the deed. No charges have been filed against him.
Contreras ran up and punched one of the group in the face, scattering the group onto campus.
“I was drunk, acting stupid,” Contreras told the jury.
Contreras heard shots and saw his friend, Brough, bleeding on the ground. He froze, then turned and ran home.
There is a clear political component of the prosecution and trial. The shooting was originally billed as another mass school shooting, with the “victims” lionized. The facts disclosed later, which bolstered the self defense claim of Jones, did not receive near the publicity. If Jones were found to be justified, it removes a reason to oppose Campus Carry.
After the mistrial was announced, Colin Brough’s father Doug released the following statement to 12 News:
Guns should not be allowed on campus. Justice will be served.
As an additional affront to the educational establishment, Steven Jones was home schooled. From azcentral.com:
12 News reported that Jones was home-schooled when he graduated, and his profile in a high-school graduation-ceremony program for Arizona Families for Home Education lists competitive pistol shooting among his interests:
Arizona law has traditionally required that once a self-defense claim is made, prosecutors must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the action was *not justifiable*. From 1997 to 2006, the law was changed to an “affirmative defense” where a person claiming self defense had to prove that they acted reasonably, instead of the other way around. The Harold Fish case happened during that period. Fish was prosecuted by the same prosecution office that is prosecuting Steven Jones.
Because of the abuse of the law in the Harold Fish case, the law was reversed to the pre 1997 standard in 2006. The Harold Fish conviction was reversed by the Arizona Supreme Court.
It is understood that one punch can be deadly, and that multiple attackers can qualify as disparity of force. An attempt to disarm someone can qualify as a deadly threat. These defenses are complicated in the Steven Jones NAU case because the original attacker ran off while his friends continued the attack. Jones had and was using a tactical light on his Glock pistol. While there is testimony that he announced that he was armed, the light may have obscured the view of his handgun.
The judge, Dan Slayton, has stated that Jones will now face a new trial, starting August 1, 2017. The new trial may be on reduced charges of 2nd degree homicide or manslaughter. The first trial was for premeditated murder.
©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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.