Possible conflict of interest in NAU case

Posted at 11:11 AM, Jan 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-21 18:46:43-05

A court hearing Thursday morning in Flagstaff in the case of Steven Jones, the Northern Arizona University suspected of shooting and killing another student and injuring three others, revealed that there may be a potential conflict of interest with the judge.

Jones waived his right to not attend Thursday's court proceedings and none of the victims were in court either.

In court were the judge, the prosecution and the defense via telephone.

Much of the hearing surrounded general house-keeping matters, such as scheduling and confirming deadlines to rule on already-filed motions.

The judge noted that his cousin is a detective with NAU's Police Department and he helped process the scene back in October when the shooting occurred. His name appeared on the witness list.

The prosecution said it didn't have an issue with it, but the judge said if the defense has an issue with it, he may need to recuse himself from the case.

Another issue brought up by the prosecution was that they were having trouble getting evidence processed by the crime lab in northern Arizona due to backlogs. What's happening is that evidence is being transported down to Phoenix crime labs for processing. According to the prosecution, they can only have five items processed at a time.

Since the scene was complex and involved involved the blood of four victims, it could take months to have everything processed.

The judge instructed the defense to figure out its stance on his cousin being on the witness list and set another hearing to consider the motion filed asking that Jones be released from jail until his trial begins.

ABC15 is being told that two of the victims will attend that court hearing.