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Jury begins deliberations in Northern Arizona University shooting trial


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Jurors have begun deliberating at the trial of a former Northern Arizona University student charged with murder and aggravated assault for fatally shooting one student and wounding three others during a 2015 confrontation near campus.

Attorney Burges McCowan told jurors Tuesday during closing arguments that his client, Steven Jones, acted reasonably in defending himself in 2015 when he was accosted by a drunken group of strangers, punched in the face and chased by some members of the group.

Jones has contended that he fired his handgun in self-defense after being punched in the face by intoxicated people during a confrontation in October 2015 near the university’s campus in Flagstaff.

Colin Brough was killed in the shooting; Nicholas Piring, Nicholas Prato and Kyle Zeintek were wounded.

Prosecutors argued Jones wasn’t justified in using lethal force and portrayed him as the aggressor who chose to introduce the gun into an argument. They said he could have walked away from the fight without resorting to gunfire.

It occurred after Jones and two friends were walking from an early morning party and stopped at an apartment complex.

Jones said he went back toward the group and fired his gun but didn’t mean to hurt anyone. He testified he fired several shots “to stop the immediate threat that was coming at me.”

Prosecutors insisted that Jones’ actions were premeditated.

None of the victims was armed.

Zientek, who lost a kidney and part of his intestine due to his injuries, had testified that he tried to run away moments before he was shot twice in the back.

Jones, who is now 20, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and aggravated assault charges.

Prosecutors didn’t seek the death penalty. A first-degree murder conviction carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

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