Ex-Alabama player Miles indicted on capital murder charges
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Former Alabama basketball player Darius Miles and another man have been indicted by a grand jury on capital murder charges for the January shooting death of a 23-year-old woman near campus, defense lawyers confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday.
Miles was charged with capital murder in the shooting death of Jamea Harris, his defense lawyer Mary Turner told the AP. Michael Davis, who police investigators said was the triggerman, was also indicted, his lawyer, John Charles Robbins, said.
Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Hays Webb told AL.com that the indictments against Miles and Davis, who’ve been held without bond since their arrest, were issued on Wednesday.
Harris was sitting in a car when she was struck by a bullet. A police investigator testified last month that Miles provided the handgun Davis allegedly used in the shooting.
During a court hearing last month, Turner suggested Miles was in a defensive posture when he told Davis where the gun was located.
But prosecutors maintained there was ample evidence to pursue charges in the shooting, which happened early Jan. 15 on “The Strip,” a district of bars and restaurants near the Tuscaloosa campus. Testimony at the hearing last month indicated there had been some type of verbal altercation before the shooting.
The Turner Law Group, which is representing Miles, issued a statement Friday, saying they were disappointed by the decision to pursue capital murder charges “considering the evidence uncovered during our investigation and the obvious weaknesses in the government’s case brought to light during the preliminary hearing.”
Davis maintains he is innocent, Robbins, his attorney, said. “I look forward to the opportunity to vigorously defend Michael at trial and to defend his right to protect himself when somebody points a gun at him and shoots him,” Robbins said.
Miles was a reserve on the Crimson Tide, but an ankle injury sidelined him for the rest of the season. After he was charged in January, Alabama said he was “removed from campus” and the team.
During the February court hearing, Tuscaloosa Police investigator Brandon Culpepper testified that Miles texted Tide freshman basketball star Brandon Miller to bring him his gun. Police have said another player, guard Jaden Bradley, also was at the scene.
Neither Miller nor Bradley have been charged with anything.
“This whole situation is just really heartbreaking, but respectfully that’s all I’m going to be able to say on that,” Miller told reporters Wednesday in his first public comments about the case.
Both Miller and Bradley have continued to play as the No. 4-ranked team in the country makes its way through the Southeastern Conference Tournament ahead of the NCAA Tournament. Miller scored 18 points and had nine rebounds in Friday’s SEC quarterfinal win over Mississippi State.
In the postgame news conference, Miller was asked his thoughts on the indictment. He said, “I can’t — I’m not going to be able to say on that.”
Coach Nate Oats was asked whether he has a weapons policy for his team, and said that “our players are required to follow the university policy on guns, which essentially bans them on campus.”
He also was asked who was involved in deciding whether Miller and Bradley could continue to play.
“It’s been a difficult situation, as you understand. I mean, we’re dealing with a criminal matter,” Oats said, adding that as the school received “facts from law enforcement as they do their investigation,” “this was a decision made, based on all the facts we had, with, obviously, my boss, (Director of Athletics) Greg Byrne; his boss, (President) Dr. (Stuart) Bell; and the Board of Trustees.
“And everybody was comfortable, and based on the information we had, Brandon didn’t break any school policy or team policy, so … I was comfortable with the decision that was made.”
Harris’ mother told reporters last month that she is frustrated by the focus on basketball instead of her daughter’s death. She said her daughter was a beautiful person who was trying to have a night out with friends when she was killed.
“She has a 5-year-old son that is still waiting for his mother to come home,” DeCarla Heard told reporters. “I want justice for my grandson.”
Oats was asked Friday whether he has spoken to Harris’ family.
“Listen, this whole situation has been, obviously, as you know, hard to deal with, tragic, to have any involvement in a young woman losing her life. What you ask is a private matter. I’m not going to discuss publicly with everybody,” he said. “A lot of this is just hard to deal with, to be honest with you. But it’s a private matter.”
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