MIAMI – Former University of Miami football player Rashaun Jones pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges of killing a teammate in front of a residential complex in South Florida in 2006.
Jones’ lawyer, 35, pleaded guilty during a remote court hearing after prosecutors formally charged him with second-degree murder.
Jones, who was arrested last month, has long been a suspect in the death of Bryan Pate, 22. Jones was originally arrested on a first-degree murder charge, and prosecutors said he could still face that charge. But to charge him with that charge, prosecutors would have to bring the case to a grand jury.
Pata was expected to be the first pick in the 2007 NFL draft after his fourth and final season with the Hurricanes. A defensive line attacker, 1.9 meters tall, 127 kilograms tall, was shot dead in front of his apartment in Kendall on the night of November 7, 2006.
Some witnesses claimed to have heard an argument and then gunshots. Despite the fact that Pata has hundreds of dollars in his wallet, neither the car nor the cash was taken, the police said.
Investigators said they learned through numerous interviews that Pata and Jones, who played three seasons with hurricanes, experienced clashes before the shooting. Pata had previously beaten his teammate during the fight, officials said. And Pat’s brother told investigators that Jones threatened to kill Pat two months before his death. Despite persuading his brother, Pata never reported the threat.
During two conversations with detectives, Jones told investigators that he was in his house and that he never left the night Pata died. But records show Jones’ cell phone was used by various mobile towers at the time of the shooting, authorities said. An eyewitness in the area at the time of the shooting identified Jones in a series of photographs, police said.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report