FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The student who said he tried to take the gun from Steven Jones and two others shot by the then-18-year-old on trial for murder testified Wednesday.
Jones was charged with murder and six counts of aggravated assault for shooting four fellow Northern Arizona University students, killing one.
When he took the stand, Nicholas Pletke said things went south after he asked Jones and his friends to leave their fraternity’s gathering that October 2015 night. Pletke said he asked twice politely and they agreed, also politely, but later Pletke’s Delta Chi fraternity brothers were arguing outside with the group. Pletke said he headed across the street toward where the students had made their way, picking up the pace after he heard shots and got there to see Colin Brough lying on the ground, shot and Nicholas Piring take two gunshots.
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Pletke said when he saw the shooter assisting Brough, he tried to make a move.
“I believe I tried to get on top of him when he was knelt down and tried to more or less get him in a type of chokehold or something to resist and so he wouldn’t have any hand movement, so I could potentially try to get the gun out of the back pocket," Pletke said. "This was probably only another 15-, 20-second-type endeavor and when I did that, I was unsuccessful and I ran away because I was scared."
The defense pointed out Pletke told police other guys were punching Jones as he had him in that chokehold and Jones didn’t know what their intentions were.
Nicholas Prato also took the stand Wednesday. He was shot in the neck that night.
Prato said when Jones shot his fraternity brothers, he went to hold Brough.
Prato said when he noticed Jones reaching to his back, he took two steps forward and then he was shot.
The prosecutor asked Prato about his time in the hospital where he said he could hear the voice of Nick Piring, another student shot that night.
Prato testified they did not talk about the details of the shooting.
Defense attorney Joshua Davidson focused on the differences in the stories Prato told police the night of the shooting, a few days after and Wednesday to jurors.
Prato said he was in a state of shock and getting medical attention the night police questioned him in the emergency room after he was shot in the neck.
Then came an emotional testimony from Kyle Zientek, who was critically injured that night. Jurors watched as he shook on the stand, remembering the night he lost a kidney and nearly his life.
“It was the most painful thing, but I didn’t feel a thing. I just couldn’t move. I think I took maybe one or two more steps and then I was lying on the ground,” Zientek said.
Prosecutors expected to finish calling their witnesses to the stand Thursday.