Steven Jones update: Judge delays NAU shooting retrial

Posted at 6:32 AM, May 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-31 19:42:30-04

The retrial of a former Northern Arizona University student charged in a fatal shooting in 2015 was delayed Thursday for a fourth time, frustrating surviving victims and their families.

A jury in Steven Jones' first trial deadlocked on murder and aggravated assault charges, and he had been scheduled for a retrial in July.

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However, Coconino County Superior Court Judge Dan Slayton granted a request from two of his attorneys to push back the date but didn't immediately set a new one.  Jones remains free during the process.

The attorneys said Jones doesn't want other counsel, but they can't focus on his case while the State Bar of Arizona investigates a conflict of interest allegation against them filed by one of the victims.

Slayton said he considered the impact of asking lawyers Bruce Griffen and Ryan Stevens to withdraw, leaving in place a third defense attorney who has said he doesn't feel confident taking on the case alone. Slayton said that could lead to claims of ineffective counsel and potentially a third trial.

"We want to try this case one more time, and that's it," Slayton said.

Prosecutor Ammon Barker urged Slayton to consider the victims' rights.

"At some point we have to say enough is enough, that it's time to finish this," he said.

Jones maintains he acted in self-defense when he killed then 20-year-old Colin Brough and wounded three other students after a late-night confrontation spilled onto the university's Flagstaff campus. Brough would have been 23 on Thursday.

Prosecutors portray Jones as the aggressor, saying he could have walked away from the fight without resorting to gunfire.

One of the victims, Nicholas Prato, wrote to Slayton saying Jones should be facing his victims and a jury instead of being allowed more time at home. A clearly frustrated Claudia Brough, who was listening by phone to Thursday's hearing, said "of course" when Slayton approved the delay.

It's unclear when the state bar's review will be complete. Griffen and Stevens said they would be ready for trial 60 days after a favorable outcome and wouldn't stay on the case if it's not favorable.