FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A medical examiner testified Friday in the Northern Arizona University shooting trial that the muzzle of the defendant’s gun was no more than two feet away from the victim when the shots were fired.
Steven Jones, 20, is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault for the October 2015 shootings that left one student dead and three others wounded.
Jones is claiming self-defense in the trial that is in its second week.
Coconino County Medical Examiner Lawrence Czarnecki testified that Colin Brough’s cause of death was a gunshot that severed his aorta, causing him to rapidly bleed out.
Witnesses have placed Jones and Brough as far as five to 15 feet apart at the time of the shooting.
But Czarnecki said gunpowder residue around a gunshot wound to Brough’s shoulder indicated the gun’s muzzle was in the range of 2 inches to 2 feet when the shots were fired. The other bullet went through a T-shirt into Brough’s chest, making it impossible to determine if there was gunpowder residue, he said.
On Thursday, two NAU students who are friends of Jones testified against their friend.
Jacob Mike and Shay McConnell said they were with Jones at a house near campus before the shootings occurred.
Mike and McConnell, who were Jones’ fraternity pledge-brothers, remember feeling more afraid of Jones than the four students in the moment of the shooting.
“I was scared of Steven, of the situation,” Mike said during testimony. “I thought it was a hostile situation, but at no point did I think my life was at stake.”
McConnell said he was afraid of accidentally being shot himself.
“I was not excited to see that he had a gun,” McConnell said in reference to Jones. “The gun wasn’t necessary. I ran away because I thought he was going to mistake me for someone else and shoot me.”
Jones’ attorney, Joshua Davidson, argued Mike had called police in a much more dire state the night of the shooting. Mike had told police the four students were hurting Jones, Davidson said.
Mike testified he was unstable during the incident, however, and everything he said “was all over the place that night.”
The two men were also intensely questioned about the direction Jones’ gun was pointing in the moments before the 20-year-old Brough was shot and killed, according to reports. The prosecution and defense wanted to know if Brough at any point aggressively lunged at the shooter.
Mike and McConnell both said Jones was standing in a “policeman”-like stance before the shooting, with one foot forward and two hands on the gun.
The gun’s tactical flashlight was on and the light was pointed down, they said.
The light then moved from the downward position and was “sweeping across, illuminating people,” Mike said. The first two shots were fired upon the light moving up, he said.
As for if Brough rushed toward Jones before the shots were fired, Mike said: “I wouldn’t say that he ran. I would say he moved quickly with nothing in their hands.”
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