FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A man charged in the fatal shooting of a Northern Arizona University student will remain jailed, but a judge left open the possibility of home confinement.
Steven Jones said he acted in self-defense when he opened fire on the Flagstaff campus in October, killing Colin Brough and wounding three other students. Prosecutors say he wasn’t justified in using lethal force, painting him as a loose cannon who chose to introduce a gun into an argument.
Jones’ attorneys asked Coconino County Superior Court Judge Dan Slayton on Friday to release him to the custody of his parents. They cited his lack of criminal history and said he had no desire to flee.
Slayton denied the motion but said he’d reconsider once he has more information on around-the-clock monitoring, access to weapons, potential searches of the Jones’ home and the availability of counseling.
“This aspect about the danger Mr. Jones presents, it’s really he has no history and took this action that night that causes me more concern than anything,” Slayton said.
Brough’s mother, Claudia, made a tearful plea to Slayton to keep Jones behind bars. With pictures of her son pinned to her clothing, hands clenched and sobbing, she told Slayton what she believed her son would have said: “We don’t solve our problems with pulling out a gun. It’s not an option.”
A pretrial services report found that Jones is at the lowest risk of re-offending, Slayton said. That didn’t quell the fear of Nicholas Piring and Nicholas Prato, who both were shot and testified at Friday’s hearing. Like others in the courtroom, they wore all black.
“He (Jones) attempted to take my life once,” Prato said. “Please protect all of us. Keep him in police custody.”
Kyle Zientek, the other student who was shot, didn’t appear at the hearing, because he is studying abroad, his lawyer said.
Jones, wearing thick-rimmed black glasses and a blue jail jumpsuit, kept his hands in his lap during much of the hearing, occasionally glancing around the room. His family was seated behind him.
Earlier Friday, Slayton denied a motion to send Jones’ case back to the grand jury without elaborating on the ruling. Jones was indicted on first-degree murder and six counts of aggravated assault about a month after the shooting.
Attorneys in court Friday sparred over the relevance of the victims’ blood-alcohol content, statements made by the victims and witnesses, and Jones’ injuries.
A key dispute was over the actions of Brough and Piring before they were shot. The defense argued the two advanced on Jones after Jones announced he had a gun that he retrieved from his car off campus. Prosecutors said Brough and Piring weren’t confrontational and Jones had no right to shoot unarmed people.
Zientek and Prato were shot later after a crowd tackled Jones trying to disarm him, authorities said.