FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The trial of a man accused of shooting four Northern Arizona University students is underway, with prosecutors working to portray the man as a killer while the defense claims self-defense.
Opening statements began Wednesday in the trial of Steven Jones, who is accused of killing Colin Brough, 20, just off the university’s Flagstaff campus in October 2015 and wounding three others.
Jones has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and multiple aggravated assault charges. Prosecutors are not pursuing the death penalty in this case.
Both sides hope to prove their narratives over the course of the trial, which is expected to last five weeks. More than 35 witnesses are expected to be called.
One of the wounded students testified Thursday that he heard Brough, who was his best friend and fraternity brother, arguing with the people before the shooting but didn’t hear the fatal gunshots.
Nick Piring said he saw a light coming from the parking lot and thought it was a “police officer coming to break up the argument.” He later learned the light was a flashlight attached to a handgun and said he was shot twice — one time each in an arm and hip.
Jones’ attorney Joshua Davidson questioned Piring’s recollection of what happened that night, saying Piring was intoxicated after drinking at a party earlier.
Prosecutors argued Jones’ actions were premeditated when he retrieved his gun from his vehicle and shot four people, said Deputy County Attorney Ammon Barker.
“The defendant’s pride was hurt in the early morning hours of October 9 because he was punched one time in the face, and instead of walking away or punching back he went to his car to get his fully loaded handgun and walked 90 feet to shoot four college students, killing Colin Brough,” Barker said.
Davidson argues the opposite, saying Jones had been bullied and was scared before the shooting.
“Mr. Barker tells a good story but this is not a case of an assassin who murdered in the dark,” Davidson said. “This is about Mr. Jones, who a couple of weeks into his college career found himself surrounded, threatened and attacked. Jones did what he had to do to protect himself and he only had seconds to make that decision.”
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