Former Miami Hurricanes football player Rashaun Jones was arrested on Friday for the 2006 murder of teammate Bryan Pata.
Former Miami Hurricanes player Rashaun Jones was arrested in 2006 for the murder of his teammate, Bryan Pata.
This story is still unfolding.
Police arrested a former Miami football player on Thursday in the shooting murder of teammate Bryan Pata in November 2006, almost 15 years after the incident and nine months after an ESPN investigation revealed mistakes in the long-stalled police probe.
Rashaun Jones, 35, was arrested on a first-degree murder allegation, according to Miami-Dade Police. Det. Juan Segovia praised the Pata family and the community for putting the pressure on to solve the case in a video posted on Twitter.
Segovia stated, “The community never ceased reaching us.” “Even if we received a thousand tips and just one put the pieces together, that’s all it required, and that’s precisely what occurred in this instance.”
“I can only hope that this provides a sense of closure and pleasure to the Pata family.”
Jones was detained in Marion County, Florida, according to the Miami Herald. Jones, according to Segovia, is awaiting extradition to Miami. More information on what led to the arrest was not immediately available.
Jones claimed he knew police and even some former teammates suspected him of murdering Pata during a short phone call in April 2019 when ESPN was researching the case, but he denied any participation.
He stated at the time, “What occurred 12 years ago, happened 12 years ago.” “It has nothing to do with me at all…. I wasn’t the one who did it.”
Jones’ wife, Ishenda Jones, texted ESPN last year, saying, “[Rashaun’s] remark was that he was completely innocent. Bryan was not killed by him. My spouse was cleared by Miami-Dade because there was no evidence against him.”
Pata was arrested a week after his 37th birthday, which would have been today. Pata was shot in the head as he exited his SUV in front of his apartment complex, four miles from the University of Miami, on Nov. 7, 2006. Pata had just returned from afternoon practice about 7 p.m.; he was months away from getting chosen in the NFL Draft.
Jones had long been suspected in the 15-year-old murder, according to an ESPN article released last November that tracked the police investigation and detailed numerous hypotheses – as well as Pata’s family’s concerns that police had the dedication and ability to solve the case.
For years, police claimed they had no suspects, but during a court fight with ESPN over public documents this year, an officer overseeing the case said police “had a strong opinion who murdered Bryan Pata,” and that they had come close to capturing this individual at least a decade before.
According to interviews and papers acquired by ESPN, Jones and Pata had a history of arguing and fighting, and Jones had previously dated Pata’s girlfriend, Jada Brody. According to police documents, Brody cooperated with officers at the time of the incident, but she became irritated when officers returned months later to ask questions. Her statements regarding Jones’ potential participation are not recorded in the documents. ESPN contacted Brody for more than two years before releasing his 2020 story, contacting him by phone, text message, social media, and via friends and family. She was never willing to do an interview.
According to police interviews with ESPN, the gunman may have been waiting for Pata in the woods or behind a trash. The incident was never seen by anybody, and no security cameras in the vicinity recorded it. According to authorities, several individuals questioned at the apartment complex claimed hearing loud shouting, while others reported hearing gunshots.
Lt. Rudy Gonzalez told ESPN in a 2019 interview that police questioned a homeowner who said he was strolling in the parking lot the night of the murder when he observed a guy fleeing the area. The householder provided enough information to create a sketch, and records reveal that an unidentified individual was shown a lineup. However, authorities have refused to disclose the sketch or indicate whether or not it matched any potential suspects.
ESPN sued Miami-Dade County in March 2020 for withholding and redacting documents in the case, which the network said should be made public since the lawsuit was no longer ongoing. However, authorities disputed that it was inactive, promising a fresh attempt.
Police were only “a jigsaw piece” away from completing the investigation, according to Lt. Joseph Zanconato, who was subsequently moved out of the murder squad. “In the near future,” Zanconato said when asked whether the department will make an arrest.
Hundreds of individuals had been questioned, and the case file had grown to over 4,000 pages, with allusions to nightclub fights, stolen rims, furious girlfriends, federal investigators, and even an alleged jailhouse confession. However, there were a lot of notes and materials about Jones.
More than 100 individuals had been questioned and/or had their backgrounds checked by police. Before the information, each of their files had a cover page. The only time the subject is referred to as “suspect” in the case report is on the cover of Jones’ file. According to court evidence, lines blacked out in the midst of a page with additional information concerning Jones were stated to be dealing with “our main subject of interest.”
One former teammate remembered a brawl between Jones and Pata in an ESPN interview. “Boy, you may as well go ahead and clip up,” Jones said as the two were separated, according to the story.
Jones was conspicuously missing from a required team meeting convened by coaches on the night of the homicide, according to records and interviews. He’d been banned the previous day after testing positive for marijuana for the third time.
Jones subsequently told investigators that he was home alone the night Pata was murdered, and that when he found out, he went to the Hecht Center, presumably for the rendezvous. However, additional witnesses informed police and over a dozen former players told ESPN that they had no memory of Jones being there. Jones had provided a fake alibi, according to the police report.
Jones contacted a fellow Miami athlete to borrow money that night to travel out of town, according to police records obtained by ESPN. Following that, police questioned the athlete, who talked to ESPN on the condition of anonymity but verified that Jones did ask for money; he refused to elaborate. On the night of Nov. 7, Coral Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak, a law enforcement liaison for the Hurricanes at the time, claimed Jones’ name kept coming up when he talked with athletes at the football facilities.
“There was a strong belief that [Jones] had a role in it,” Hudak added. “When the players mentioned it to me, I made sure the detectives knew about it. I’m not sure what happened with those leads.”
Police and Pata’s family held a news conference in 2017 to solicit public leads and information. Officers consistently said at the time, and over the following three years while ESPN writers worked on the story, that they felt there was someone out there – other than the shooter – with first-hand knowledge, and that they wanted that individual to come forward. Miami-Dade Police mainly won the records lawsuit brought by ESPN in September 2020, in part because detectives promised they would continue their investigation and make an arrest in the “foreseeable future.” Officers engaged on the Pata probe either retired or were removed from the case around that time. Det. Juan Segovia, one of the initial investigators on the Pata investigation, was assigned to take over by Police Maj. Jorge Aguiar, who took over the Miami-Dade murder bureau in autumn 2020. He claimed Segovia was re-interviewing previous witnesses, but he didn’t elaborate. Aguiar ceased responding to emails and voicemails requesting updates after the ESPN article was published.
Jones has been accused and convicted of a number of felony traffic and drug-related crimes over the years, including a second-offense driving with a suspended license ticket in Columbia County in May, which he was arrested for and released the same day.
Jones has 10 years of expertise teaching adults, children, and adolescents, according to the private-coaching website CoachUp. According to the website, he helped with his alma mater’s football squad, Columbia High School. “(I’ve) witnessed what errors not to make when you have the whole world in your hands!” says a quotation at the top of his page.
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