A Coconino County judge presiding over the case of Steven Jones, accused of shooting four fellow Northern Arizona University students, has ordered the prosecution and defense to consider a settlement.
Superior Court Judge Dan Slayton on Tuesday ordered both sides to hold settlement negotiations before the trial of Jones, which is slated for April 4, The Arizona Republic reported.
"It's never too late to move toward a fair and just non-trial resolution," Slayton said.
The judge then told Jones' attorney, Joshua Davidson, "to have a really good heart-to-heart with your client and submit a settlement offer to the prosecution. There's no way to reach a resolution unless there's a starting point."
Jones, 20, has pleaded not guilty to murder and aggravated assault charges. He is accused of killing Colin Brough just off the university's Flagstaff campus in October 2015 and wounding three others.
First-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of release. Under terms of a settlement agreement, Jones could plead guilty to the lesser crimes of second-degree murder, manslaughter or negligent homicide and receive a lighter sentence.
Prosecutor Ammon Barker has said in the past that his office has no intention of offering Jones a plea agreement.
Jones did not speak during Tuesday's hearing. He is out of custody and living with his parents in Glendale while awaiting trial.
Jones has told investigators he acted in self-defense.