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Attorney: Sober toxicology report could help NAU shooter’s self-defense claim

(Northern Arizona University Police Department via AP)

LISTEN: Criminal Defense Attorney Marc J. Victor - New NAU Shooter Toxicology Report

A sober result on a toxicology report could help the self-defense case for a man accused of opening fire on Northern Arizona University’s campus last month, an attorney said Tuesday.

“I think this (the report) is very interesting information,” Marc J. Victor told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Tuesday. “It makes this shooting qualitatively different than sort of the parade of shootings that we’ve seen, where, you know, bad guy, crazy guy comes to a place and starts just unloading and killing people randomly.”

The toxicology report showed 18-year-old Steven Jones was found to have no trace of drugs or alcohol in his system when he allegedly shot and killed Colin Brough and wounded three others last month on NAU’s campus. All were found to be legally intoxicated at the time and three, including Brough, tested positive for recent marijuana use.

While Victor stressed there are still a lot of details that are unknown, especially what independent witnesses saw, he feels the sober toxicology report could give Jones a leg to stand on in court.

“The defense now doesn’t really have to say, ‘Look, these other three people are lying,’ they can just say, ‘Look, they were impaired by alcohol and marijuana. Not that they’re lying, they just didn’t perceive the event accurately,'” he said.

However, Jones still faces some obstacles in his self-defense case. Victor said there are two major issues in his defense, one of which is that Jones allegedly retrieved the gun from his car before opening fire.

“If that’s true, they’re going to have a real problem with the immanency prong of the self-defense,” he said, adding that the prosecution could argue this meant Jones may have been able to leave the scene.

The other hurdle is Jones’ response to the situation. While he sustained a split lip and other injuries, Victor said that may not be enough for convince a jury he needed to use lethal force to defend himself.

“You’ve got to be able to say ‘Hey, look. My life was in danger’ or ‘I was in danger of serious physical injury,’ not just a bloody lip,” he said.

Jones was indicted for first-degree murder and is being held on a $2 million bond. Victor said, despite the idea that a premeditated murder is planned well ahead of time, he was likely charged appropriately.

“Premeditation can literally just be a couple of seconds,” he said. “You just had enough time to think about it and honestly have in your head, ‘Should I do this or not?’”

Bruce St. James & Pamela Hughes

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