(You can watch the trial above with legal analysis when it starts at Noon EST or 9:00 PST. If you’d prefer a raw feed of the trial, scroll to the bottom of the article.)
Testimony will resume Wednesday in the murder trial of Steven Jones, a then-freshman at Northern Arizona University who shot four other students after an off-campus party on October 9, 2015, killing one of them. Jones claims that he acted in self-defense after being chased during a brawl. Prosecutors allege that Jones was merely sucker-punched by drunken fraternity members.
Colin Brough died in the attack, and Nick Piring, Nick Prato, and Kyle Zientek were injured. Jones is facing one charge of first-degree premeditated murder and six charges of aggravated assault.
Court was in session for less than three hours Tuesday. Most of the day’s testimony involved Zach Volpo, a fraternity member and friend of the victims who witnessed much of the attack.
Volpo’s testimony was confrontational at times. He admitted not coming forward to the authorities about witnessing the attack until after going to the hospital to see the victims and after going to a press conference held by local officials about the occurrence. He said that his only interaction with police on the scene involved one officer becoming mad at him for “making fun” of the situation. The defense did not delve further into that interaction, though it is possible Volpo was using humor as a coping mechanism.
Volpo said he was “crying,” “smoking,” and “praying” at the hospital. The defense hammered him over whether he saw police at the hospital. Volpo said he did not. After repeated pummelling, Volpo referred to the crime as a “murder,” leading to an immediate objection, which the judge sustained. The judge also struck the statement from the record.
It’s the jury’s job, not the witness’s job, to determine whether the shooting was a murder or whether it was self-defense.
The judge warned Volpo to refrain from editorializing about what had happened.
Volpo also called the shooting the “most traumatic event” of his life. The defense moved to strike that statement as nonresponsive to the question asked. The judge agreed and sustained the objection.
Volpo did say that Austin Contreras ran past him before the shots rang out. Contreras told Volpo that he had struck someone. The line was something to the effect of “I got him good,” or “I cracked him.” Volpo couldn’t recall the exact quote. Contreras had taken the stand previously in the trial and admitted to punching the shooter.
Volpo also testified about the strong tactical light attached to the top of the defendant’s gun.
The defense also accused Volpo of failing to come forward sooner because he was trying to get his story straight with other members of the fraternity. Volpo denied any collusion.
Upon leaving the witness stand, Volpo leisurely donned his sunglasses and poured himself a cup of water to go.
Two doctors who treated the victims also testified. Dr. Robert Berger and Dr. Daniel Wesche testified about the wounds sustained by victim Kyle Zientek and the treatment regimen Zientek faced during recovery.
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