Former Miami Hurricanes football player accused of killing teammate Bryan Pata will plead not guilty, attorney says

ESPN is investigating the death of Bryan Pata, a former Miami Hurricanes lineman, more than 14 years later. (5:54).
Bryan Pata, an ex-Miami Hurricanes player football player, was accused of murdering his teammate in 2006. His attorney Friday stated that Rashaun Jones' case is based upon circumstantial evidence that police have "sat on for 15 years."

Jones was represented by defense attorney Michael Mirer at a bond hearing held in Dade County, Florida on Friday. A judge denied Jones' request. Jones is now expected to remain in jail for a first-degree murder case until his arraignment hearing Sept. 17. Mirer stated that Jones would plead not guilty. Jones could be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without parole if convicted.

Mirer stated that it was an unusual case. "It's an unusual case," Mirer said to ESPN.

Mirer stated that he did not want to speculate about the reason why police made the arrest last Wednesday. He stated that Jones maintained his innocence and was looking forward to his day at court.

Jones was taken to Miami's Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center by police on Thursday, Aug. 19. The warrant details the evidence against Jones. It includes interviews with Jones's witnesses, phone signal records that indicate that Jones wasn't at his home that night, and ballistics reports that indicated that the bullet found in Pata was the same caliber as the type of gun Jones owned.

A witness gave police in 2006 a description of Jones-looking man. Jones was selected from a photo lineup in 2007 and again in September 2020, when police conducted a follow up interview.

Most of the evidence in the warrant appears to be from records and statements that police made within two years of the shooting. Both police and state attorneys have declined to answer any questions about new evidence or why the warrant was issued. Mirer's statements were not commented on by a spokesperson for the Miami-Dade state attorney. The Miami-Dade Police Department didn't immediately respond to a request.

An arrest warrant states that it is being presented "for a limited purpose establishing probable cause", and doesn't include every aspect, fact or detail of the investigation. If the defendant chooses to exchange discovery materials, the prosecution has 15 days to turn evidence over to the defense.

Pata, who was returning from practice on Nov. 7, 2006 was driving home when he was hit in the head while getting out of his SUV to go to his apartment complex just 4 miles away. ESPN's investigation revealed that Jones had been a suspect for some time. Interviews and police documents reveal that Jones and Pata had a history full of fights and arguments. Jones also dated Jada Brody, Pata's ex-girlfriend. In a case file with more than 4,000 pages, police interviewed at least 100 people and did background checks. However, Jones was the only person who had the word "suspect” on their cover page.

Police had previously interviewed ESPN about the possibility that the shooter was waiting for Pata in the bushes or behind the dumpster. The shooting was not captured by any security cameras.

ESPN sued Miami-Dade Police Department in March 2020 for withholding and redacting records related to the case. The network claimed that the records should be made public since the case was closed. However, police claimed that the case was not active and promised to reopen it.

Later, Lt. Joseph Zanconato was transferred from the homicide unit and told the judge that the police were only "a puzzle piece" away closing the case. Zanconato was asked if the department would make an arrest in the "foreseeable future".

Pata, the youngest child of nine, was just months away from being selected for the NFL draft. His mother, a Haitian immigrant, was his goal. Pata's brother Edwin was optimistic when asked about the contents and whether there were any new evidence. Edwin Pata stated, "There must be something new." It sounds like they are trying to make their case more difficult. However, there is something that may have broken that they had hoped for. That would be helped by the fact that it was happening. It finally happened.

There's more to it. There's more to it.