University of Alabama basketball star Brandon Miller brought a teammate the gun that was used in a fatal January shooting near campus, an investigator testified on Tuesday in a preliminary hearing.
Miller, a freshman standout, brought Darius Miles his gun on the night of the shooting after Miles texted him and asked him, Tuscaloosa Police investigator Brandon Culpepper testified, according to news reports.
The allegation of Miller’s involvement in the Jan. 15 shooting came during a preliminary hearing for Miles and Michael Davis, who face capital murder charges for the death of 23-year-old Jamea Harris.
Miles is accused of providing his gun to Davis, who fired it and killed Harris, prosecutors say.
Alabama coach Nate Oats told reporters Tuesday during a regularly-scheduled news conference the team was aware that Miller allegedly brought Miles the gun, but the team’s leading scorer is not in “any type of trouble.” He has started every game since the shooting.
Miller has not been criminally charged. A team representative did not immediately know if Miller had an attorney.
Miller was just in “the wrong spot at the wrong time,” Oats said.
“You can’t control everything everybody does outside of practice. Nobody knew that was going to happen,” Oats said. “College kids are out. Brandon hasn’t been in any type of trouble, nor is he in any type of trouble in this case. Like the wrong spot at the wrong time.”
Oats faced criticism online for his comments, which seem to some to trivialize the incident, and issued an apology later Tuesday evening. “This entire time I’ve tried to be thoughtful in my words relative to this tragic incident, and my statements came across poorly,” he said in a statement. “In no way did I intend to downplay the seriousness of this situation or the tragedy of that night. My prayers continue to go out to Jamea Harris’s family.”
The 6-foot-9 Miller is the biggest star of the second-ranked Tide team and is projected to be an NBA Draft lottery pick.
The shooting occurred on the Strip, a district of bars and restaurants that caters to students near the Tuscaloosa campus. Harris was sitting in the passenger seat of a car when she was struck by a bullet, police said.
Investigators wrote in a court document that Miles, who had been a junior reserve forward on the team, admitted to providing the gun used in the fatal shooting, but Davis fired the weapon.
Culpepper said Tuesday that Miles told Davis where his gun was in Miller’s car.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers presented diverging accounts of the shooting. Chief Deputy District Attorney Paula Whitley told the judge that there was ample evidence to proceed with the case against Miles and Davis.
A defense lawyer suggested during Tuesday’s hearing that Miles was reacting defensively when he told Davis where the gun was located. “The reason that the gun was provided to Michael Davis was for protection,” Mary Turner argued.
Defense lawyers asked for Davis and Miles to be released on bond. District Judge Joanne Jannik did not immediately issue a decision on the bond request.
Both Davis and Miles wiped away tears as their mothers’ took to the stand to testify that they would make sure their sons would follow rules if granted bond.
After court, Harris’s mother told reporters that she was frustrated by the focus on basketball, when the shooting claimed the life of her daughter. “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.”
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