FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The defense team for Steven Jones, who is accused of shooting four students at Northern Arizona University in 2015, has moved to disqualify the Coconino County Attorney from the upcoming retrial because of a perceived conflict of interest.
According to the motion, Coconino County Attorney William Ring was working for Flagstaff law firm Aspey,Watkins & Diesel prior to his election and received numerous contributions from the firm during his campaign.
Earlier this year, Ring's former firm filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of the parents of shooting victim Colin Brough and of the two students wounded in the shooting, Nick Piring and Nick Prato.
The suit seeks a financial reward from Jones's father, Warren Jones, claiming he negligently trained and supervised his son's use of a firearm.
Jones's attorneys claim Ring was conflicted because Aspey, Watkins & Diesel stand to gain financially from a civil lawsuit that depends on Jones being convicted.
The motion filed by Jones's attorneys further states that a month after his election in November 2016, Ring sought a pre-trial interview with Warren Jones. It also alleges the Coconino County Attorney's Office disclosed Warren's statement to Aspey, Watkins & Diesel. The statement was used by the firm to bring their civil suit.
Warren Jones ultimately did not testify during the trial.
The previous trial ended in a mistrial after the jury could not come to a consensus. The next trial is expected to begin in October, but if the judge rules in favor of the motion, that date could be pushed back.
12 News has also learned the defense has filed a motion for deposition connected to Nick Prato’s mother Kim. The defense has asked to speak with her but since she declined, the defense is asking a judge to force her to talk.
Jones’s attorneys cite Nick Prato’s credibility and the importance of it in the upcoming case as a reason to speak with his mother. Kim Prato appeared on 12 News back in May of 2016.
During the interview, she talked about the shooting. Prato said Jones “looked (Nick) in the eye and pulled out a gun and shot him,” among other statements about the shooting.
12 News reached out to Jones’s attorneys but did not hear back. The trial is scheduled to begin in October.