Ex-University of Miami football player Rashaun Jones is charged in the 2006 murder of teammate Bryan Pata
Pata was a 22-year-old defensive lineman on a path to the NFL when he was shot in the back of the head and killed outside an apartment complex.
15-year cold case drew renewed attention last year when ESPN wrote a story naming Jones, 35, as a “suspect” listed in police records for the first time
Pata’s girlfriend formerly dated Jones, and Pata had beaten up Jones at least twice when romantic relationships caused tension
Jones, 20 at the time, had threatened to shoot Pata which the victim shared with his brother
Police interviewed Jones on two separate occasions following the murder, Jones claime he was at his Miami residence, at the time of Pata’s death on November 7, 2006, and never left
Police later unearthed phone records that showed Jones was using a cellphone tower near the scene of the homicide at 6:41 p.m., 19 minutes before Pata was shot and killed
An eyewitness subsequently identified Jones in a photo lineup
Jones is facing a first degree murder charge for the death
Former University of Miami football player Rashaun Jones has been arrested on a first-degree charge murder in connection with the death of his teammate Bryan Pata in 2006, according to the Miami Herald. The men were team mates from 2004 to 2006.
Police arrested Jones in Lake City, Florida with the assistance of the US Marshalls.
He is facing a first degree murder charge for the death.
The 15-year cold case drew renewed attention last year when ESPN wrote a story naming Jones, 35, as a “suspect” listed in police records for the first time.
Pata was a 22-year-old defensive lineman on a path to the NFL when he was shot in the back of the head and killed outside an apartment complex. Pata was walking from his car to the staircase when he was shot detectives said.
Pata’s girlfriend formerly dated Jones, and Pata had beaten up Jones at least twice when romantic relationships caused tension, the report said.
That prompted Jones to warn Pata that he better get a gun in self-defense, according to ESPN.
On the same day Pata was murdered, Jones was suspended from the football team for his third failed marijuana test.
He also skipped the meeting called by coaches after word of Pata’s death began to spread, according to ESPN.
Jones allegedly asked a friend for money to leave town that night and changed his phone number.
No eyewitnesses to the shooting ever came forward.
Jones was arrested in Lake City, Fla. as part of a joint operation between Miami-Dade County police and the U.S. Marshals office, according to NBC6 in Miami.
Pata played defensive tackle for Miami from 2003 to 2006 and was in his fourth season with the program when he was killed outside of his apartment after a football practice.
The Miami native and talented ball player was just 22 and projected to be selected in the 2007 NFL Draft when he was shot in a manner that was described as “execution style.”
Pata’s family long believed jealousy was the motive for the murder.
“He wanted to make it to the NFL and make my mother proud and he wanted to help his family,” brother Edrick Pata told NBC 6 in 2017.
“I believe it was more so the jealousy, a lot of jealousy. The way Bryan carried himself, he was very bold, he was confident in what he did, he was confident he was going to graduate college, he was confident he was going to get drafted to the NFL.”
Police at the time said it was a calculated murder.
“We believe that this person was waiting for Bryan Pata. We don’t know exactly where this person was positioned, but there are trees and shrubbery and concrete walls in close proximity,” Miami-Dade Police Det. Miguel Dominguez said in a 2017 story with NBC 6 reporter Laura Rodriguez.
“His girlfriend at the time was inside the apartment. She thought she heard his voice and when she went outside Bryan Pata was discovered deceased,” Dominguez said.
Police said Pata and Jones had ongoing issues, with Pata allegedly beating Jones up during a physical altercation.
Two months prior to the 2006 murder, Pata told his brother Edwin that Jones allegedly threatened to shoot him in the head.
Pata did not report the threat, despite pleas from his brother to report the incident to then-football coach Larry Coker.
The investigation also revealed that Jones allegedly made threats to other individuals with the use of a small caliber firearm. Police interviewed Jones on two separate occasions following the murder.
In the first interview, Jones told investigators he was at his Miami residence, located at 7378 SW 80 Street, at the time of Pata’s death on November 7, 2006, and never left.
Police later unearthed phone records that showed Jones was using a cellphone tower near the scene of the homicide at 6:41 p.m., 19 minutes before Pata was shot and killed.
An eyewitness subsequently identified Jones in a photo lineup – Although there was no direct witness to the shooting, a neighbor named Paul Conner also identified Jones as the man who was seen walking away from the scene. Conner, now 77, heard the “pop” of the shot and described a man wearing a black T-shirt and dark-colored shorts he saw emerge from the apartment complex parking lot from the direction of the sound.
Street light illuminated the street, according to the warrant. “He had a clear and unobstructed view” of the man’s face, Miami-Dade Detective Juan Segovia, of the homicide bureau, wrote in the warrant.
Conner’s testimony helped police prepare a sketch of the murder suspect released not long after the shooting. He was re-interviewed last September and picked Jones out of a photo lineup, police said.
Jones has insisted he had nothing to do with the killing: “I know I ain’t had nothing to do with it. So why would it bother me?” Jones told ESPN in 2020.
“What happened 12 years ago, happened 12 years ago. It’s got nothing to do with me. … I didn’t do it.”
Detectives analyzed Jones’ past and the arrest warrant pointed out examples of Jones’ past threats.
In one case, Jones used a gun to threaten a student named David Howell in a dorm room, after Howell kicked him out for “acting inappropriately” with a visiting woman, the warrant said.
In another, a teammate named Kareem Brown told detectives that Jones told him he “always carries his .38-caliber firearm