Attorney Says Rashaun Jones Will Plead Not Guilty to Charge of Murdering Bryan Pata

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVAugust 27, 2021

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 06: A general view of the Miami Hurricanes logo before the game between the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida State Seminoles at Hard Rock Stadium on October 6, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Mark Brown/Getty Images

Rashaun Jones will plead not guilty to the first-degree murder charge he is facing in the 2006 killing of former Miami Hurricanes football teammate Bryan Pata.

Defense attorney Michael Mirer, who is representing Jones, told Elizabeth Merrill and Paula Lavigne of ESPN his client will plead not guilty to the charge. If convicted, Jones could be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole or a death sentence.

A judge denied Jones' request for bond at a hearing on Friday, which means he will remain in jail leading up to his Sept. 17 arraignment hearing.

"It's an unusual case," Mirer said. "I mean, the arrest warrant talks about evidence that police gathered back in 2007, sat on for 15 years, and re-interviewing the same eyewitness that they allegedly interviewed back in 2007 without any further evidence in the arrest warrant."

David Ovalle and Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald reported on Aug. 19 that Jones was arrested and charged as authorities attempted to solve who shot Pata in the head and killed him in 2006.

The Miami Herald report explained there were no witnesses to the shooting, although a neighbor said he saw Jones walk away from the scene. Investigators also said Pata and Jones had recently fought, and Pata told his brother that his teammate threatened to shoot him in the head.

According to Merrill and Lavigne, cellphone records suggested Jones was not where he told police he was on that 2006 night, and a ballistics report matched the bullet to a caliber of a type of gun Jones possessed.

The neighbor also picked Jones out of a photograph lineup in 2007 and in 2020 during a follow-up interview.

"An ESPN investigation last fall revealed police had long considered Jones a suspect," Merrill and Lavigne wrote. "According to police documents and interviews, Jones and Pata had a history of arguments and fights, and Jones previously dated Pata's girlfriend."

Pata was in the middle of his senior season and was expected to be selected in the 2007 NFL draft.