Steven Jones NAU in Court Flagstaff
Arizona Superior Court Judge Dan Slayton has refused to reduce the $2 million bail set for Steven Jones. Last year, Jones pleaded self defense after shooting and killing Colin Brough. Jones claimed he was chased after being beaten by a group of fraternity men at Northern Arizona University. The prosecutor’s office is the Coconino County Attorney’s office out of Flagstaff. It’s the same prosecutor’s office that handled the infamous . . .

Harold Fish case. Fish, a hiker who shot and killed a man at the end of a trail, also pleaded self defense. Prosecutors mishandled the Fish case. He spent three years in prison until an appeals court overturned the conviction and released him pending a new trial. Coconino prosecutors asked the court to review the case again; the Superior Court refused.

Arizona legislators passed four bills aimed at getting Fish a new trial. The first bill was deemed insufficient by the court for a new trial; Governor Janet Napolitano vetoed two of the bills. A fourth was finally signed by Governor Jan Brewer after Napolitano resigned to join the Obama administration. After Fish was released from prison, he made this statement, from azcapitoltimes.com:

“I never felt I was guilty and felt that I was never able to communicate that in a way the system would understand,” he said. “We tried and tried, but they just didn’t want to hear what really happened. Once they (Coconino Attorney’s Office) got it into their mind they wanted to pursue a conviction, then no amount of reason or truth would deter them.”

The Harold Fish case came to mind because of some of the statements made by Coconino County Deputy Attorney Ammon Barker. From azcentral.com:

The defense also contended that prosecutors did not present information on the extent of Jones’ injuries to the grand jury.

Jones told police he was punched and later wrestled to the ground. Police reports say officers observed injuries on his head, back, chest, arms and knees as well as swelling on a wrist.

Prosecutors said Jones’ injuries weren’t relevant to his self-defense claim.

“The injuries are superficial … they are just little scrapes and bruises, nothing more,” Barker said.

The idea that injuries are irrelevant to a self defense claim is rather unusual, especially in a case where the defense is based on fear of beating by multiple attackers. Barker put forward another legal theory:

“You cannot bring a gun to a fist fight,” Barker said.

It’s a strange contention, when defense against multiple attackers has long been recognized as sufficient disparity of force to justify deadly force; and since numerous people have been killed with a single punch to the head. Arizona law has no duty to retreat.

Toxicology results show that all four of the people that Jones shot had levels of alcohol in their blood beyond legal intoxication; three showed evidence of marijuana use. Jones’ test did not show any alcohol or drugs in his system.

Two million dollars of bail is beyond most peoples means. A bail bondsman would charge 10 percent, or $200k for the bail.  Jones has been in jail since October 9th, 2015. The Judge said that he might be willing to consider home detention with electronic monitoring. I wonder how long it will take to bring that up as a separate motion; and how much in lawyer fees will be involved.

What is exasperating about this: it has the appearance of punishment by process. Drag out the process; keep the accused in jail while you are doing so, even though it seems unlikely that you will prevail in court.

Harold Fish spent three years in prison. His legal fees amounted to more than half a million dollars; he was eventually exonerated. Because of his case, the Arizona legislature reversed an eight-year-old change in Arizona law, returning the law of self defense back to the standard of 48 other states. Jones has that legislative change in his favor.

This is a very interesting case to watch. Jones never fled the scene, and sought officer protection when they arrived. He cooperated with the police.

The shooting took place on the Northern Arizona University campus; observers have speculated political motives for the prosecution. Campus carry bills have received super majority votes in the Arizona legislature, but did not survive Governor Brewer’s veto. Steven Jones was 18 at the time of the shooting. He was legally in possession of the GLOCK pistol in his vehicle.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
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46 Responses to AZ Judge Dan Slayton Refuses to Reduce $2m Bail in Flagstaff Campus Self Defense Case

  1. Modern prosecution theory, keep ’em locked up, hammer away, day after day, looking for that plea bargain. We used to have a judicial system, then a legal system… the more modern and somehow ironic label is “Criminal justice system”. Criminal it surely is.

    • With ‘justice” being applied to the benefit of the criminals, not the victims.

      Justice should mean, you pull a gun or any other weapon, including a gang beat-down on your victim and five bystanders shoot you.

    • You got a problem with Equality?

      After all, Plea Bargaining is an egalitarian system carefully designed to ensure that the guilty and the innocent receive equal punishment while minimizing the need of prosecutors to actually work for a living.

  2. lest anyone is unsure, this is the ‘school shooting’ at NAU the antis love to bring up as part of their victim disarmament crusade.

  3. Yes, political. And a frat house. Which implies folks from a higher social and income class. How dare he shoot his betters.

    • His betters? I’ll admit I’m not up on my college fraternity rankings, so I don’t know which are the most prestigious or which attract the the rich kids. However, wasn’t Jones himself also a fraternity pledge, at the rival Sigma Chi frat?

      Maybe this was frat boy bravado B.S. that quickly spiralled out of control, but I’m not immediately convinced there’s a class warfare element here.

    • The linked news story actually said he was a pledge in the same frat as the group of alleged attackers.

      Hazing gone too far…?

  4. This whole incident has really split the town and illuminated who is on which side of the gun control debate.

    The local paper, the Daily Sun, initially reported this as a “mass school shooting” event, and has been slow to say otherwise; they’ve simply changed their form of double speak but refer to it as a “school shooting.” The paper has done a terrible job presenting the facts without bias, and their leftist lean is more evident than usual.

    The same day Brugh was killed, there was another death in town. A known vagrant and drunk was killed crossing a major intersection…not a peep from the anti-gun left about it as it does not fit their narrative. There have been more deaths similar to said vagrant’s, and still no outrage about common sense street crossing laws…hypocrites, the lot of them.

  5. “You cannot bring a gun to a fist fight,” Barker said.

    So, he will be gung ho in filing charges against any cops who shoot unarmed citizens?

  6. Wow…four attackers using fist is no cause for defense. Getting thrown to the ground while absorbing kicks to center mass and head and you cannot draw a gun?

    Arizona is well on its way to becoming a UK colony.

    • Umm, not all of Arizona. This is Coconino County, which along with Pima County (think Tucson and the UofA) is the most rabidly liberal, and un-Arizona-like county, politically.

  7. “You cannot bring a gun to a fist fight,” Barker said.”

    You cannot fist fight a man with gun, I’d say makes more sense.

    But, how do you know who does and does not have a gun, you may ask. Don’t go picking fights altogether, and the problem kind of solves itself.

  8. I agree, but I think a better motto is: You can’t bring a fist to a gunfight.

    You can’t hit me. You can’t even take a swing at me. If you direct anything besides strong language against me, you will be presented with the business end of my trusty little sidekick. If you persist in your foolish endeavor, you will be shot.

  9. That’ll teach him. He should’ve just layed there and taken it and gotten beaten to death like a real “modern man.”

    This is what liberalism leads to. And I seem to notice liberals never comment on these articles.

    • I read a couple articles on this case and they all had liberals in the comments. All of them were trying to rewrite the facts and claim the real victim walked away to his car, retrieved his firearm and returned to shoot people at the frat house. They just completely ignored the article saying where the body was because it didn’t fit the narrative.

  10. That he shot four is grounds for very serious investigation. It usually only takes a displayed weapon to turn back potential attackers. Here it appears he was actively being attacked and he certainly has an automatic defense for one or two shootings, but three and four need to be seriously looked at.

    Furthermore, it is possible he could have sought safety in his locked car. This may not apply with his right to stand your ground but it does increase suspicion that he got his gun for revenge.

    • There’s no such thing as shooting somebody too many times. You shoot until the threat is neutralized. If that takes a full magazine, so be it.

    • ” It usually only takes a displayed weapon to turn back potential attackers.”

      Sometimes however, the mob mentality of aggressors is overbold, or just plain stupid. That was the case in the Gerald Ung shooting of DiDonato in Philadelphia a few years back. DiDonato was shown in the video closing in on the retreating armed Ung, asking him “Who you gonna shoot? Who you gonna shoot?”
      Shortly afterward, he was asking the EMTs “Please don’t let me die”.

  11. But….but…but….Arizona has permitless Constitutional carry! Yay for being the most “pro-firearm” state in the country……

    Fat lotta good that does this kid. Let that be a lesson to you. Before folks strut around bragging about this state or disparaging that state on the basis of their respective firearms laws….on paper….try looking at real life outcomes of defensive gun uses in those states.

    • Don’t confuse the silliness of one county or city with the whole state. New York city does not equal New York and one asshole prosecutor does not equal AZ.

  12. I would charge the surviving attackers with manslaughter, also. Did they not confess they assaulted Jones and others? Their decisions directly led to the deaths of their comrades. Is it not regular practice to charge surviving participants of a crime with the consequences of group actions, like if someone wraps themselves around a tree during a street race you charge the other drivers with the death? Let everyone have their day in court. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius

  13. Prosecutors said Jones’ injuries weren’t relevant to his self-defense claim.

    “The injuries are superficial … they are just little scrapes and bruises, nothing more,” Barker said.

    The extent of the injuries and their effect on Jones would seem to be the very definition of a jury question. No wonder Barker doesn’t want anyone to know about them.

    I completely despise prosecutors who will use every dirty or illegal tactic in the book to get a conviction, justified or otherwise. Such prosecutors have less honor and integrity than the criminals they prosecute.

  14. “..has the appearance of punishment by process.”

    Appearance?? Man, ain’t we naive today.

    It’s a case involving a gun. In the hands of someone not directly working for an oppressive junta. That’s what’s called a career, and fame, opportunity for someone who is. And that’s all it is.

  15. What happened to the 6th and 8th Amendments to the Constitution? Maybe they were repealed when I wasn’t paying attention.

    • Pretty much. “Speedy” has come to mean “whenever we feel like getting to you.” And don’t you dare complain about it, punk.

  16. As a college student, should any sort of incident occur in which deadly force is warranted to protect my life and civil rights, I am f**ked because my campus is a double gun free zone, in CA. The 2nd I don’t run away and hide, begging for help from anyone who can hear my pleas, I can be killed without the right of self defense that a firearm would help protect, as I would be deemed as the aggressor by having a firearm for self-defense, be in violation of multiple laws that “protect” me from harm, and be liable for prosecution should I survive the encounter, by attackers and my local police.

    *Disclaimer: my local cops are often wonderful people.*

  17. How come they don’t show the judge’s face? Is this the judge who got a DUI and was only charged for the alcohol and not the Xanex?
    Phuck Flagstaff courts. Corrupt criminals.

  18. Disgusting. That prosecutor should be removed from the case and disbarred immediately. That kid who was legally and lawfully defending himself (and from what I’ve read actually DID try to retreat despite not having a duty to) from multiple aggressors needs to be set free, his record expunged completely, compensated all his legal funds from said corrupt prosecutor, and then FURTHERMORE have the prosecutor have his assets and money “civil forfeitured” for additional penalty/compensation to Jones. Maybe have the judge in this case pay into that fund as well for refusing to reduce a clearly excessive bail amount.

  19. If the shooter had been a woman, this would have been a very different case in deed. Do you think the prosecutor would say to a young, pretty blonde girl, “Sorry, your wounds were just superficial” ?

  20. ““You cannot bring a gun to a fist fight,” Barker said.”

    I bring a gun everywhere, that’s why I don’t get into fistfights. Well, I do, but only professionally.

    So what, exactly, am I supposed to do when someone attacks me? Give them my gun to make sure I’m not tempted to use it?

  21. Cops get to kill innocent people like Tamir Rice and John Crawford III just because they perceived they might pose a threat. Why aren’t civilians held to the same standard?

  22. Yet another example of how the job of wielding governmental power attracts bullies. Specifically, political bullies. This is how Russia and China do justice, with blunt, political power by a lawless bureaucracy.

  23. Any chance this was an attempted Tinder Gay-Bashing, and the accused is being punish for his sexual predilections in a socially conservative Court/State? It has all the hallmarks, except for the part were the victim refused to become one – and now appears to be the victim of the system. I’m interested to see how this plays out.

  24. In my law enforcement training years ago we were taught there are multiple factors to consider when resorting to deadly force. Obviously if the bad guy has a gun or knife in hand that’s one.

    Being outnumbered was another. A mob doesn’t have to have a weapon for someone to be in fear for his or her life from that mob.

    • Case in point: that poor girl in Santa Ana, CA that was mercilessly stomped to death by a group of people after “ruining their photo.”

  25. Welcome to Modern United States, where you are guilty before proven innocent, and bona fide criminals slinging coke to our kids have more rights and freedom than the average Joe Citizen trying to make it home after a hard day of work in one piece.

  26. Being from Flag I can say that alot of kids saw what happened, this was a densely populated area, several kids looked out there window’s when they heard a commotion, before the shots, saw what happened and told the cops. The kid looks guilty in my opinion. That being said, I own 2 guns myself and I have no problem with the right people owning guns. However, it is alarming and deeply disheartening to realize how many people in this great country let their emotions and stubbornness get in the way of rational, clear, intelligent, critical thinking. I know most of you who have commented on here are gun enthusiasts who has this little, pathetic, perverted person inside if them just waiting to bust a cap in someone’s ass. It’s sad to know that there are peaceful people all over the world that would love to live in this great country but it is overwhelmed with douchebags like you. Straighten up people, nobody likes to be a douchebag by association, you’re making us all look bad.

    • Define right people. It’s you of course and who else?
      …the right of the right people to keep and bear guns shall not be infringed. Nah, that doesn’t sound right, does it?
      Nothing makes you rethink your defensive strategies like good beating. It took me broken upper jaw, broken front tooth, chase through the night streets and hiding from bunch of drunken “fistfighters” behind someones gate and two surgeries later on to decide that I will never again get beaten if I can help it. Only after this, during two weeks in hospital I decided to start carrying a gun all day, every day.
      Most of us don’t want to hurt anybody. If carriers are so twisted and anxious to “bust a cap in someone’s ass” why is there so little blood in the streets in places like Vermont? As a matter of fact licenced carriers are the most law abiding group of people you can find. Several times more so than policemen.
      So, I believe your cheap psychology stinks of projection.

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