TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) University of Alabama basketball star Brandon Miller handed a teammate the gun that was used in a fatal January shooting near campus, an investigator testified Tuesday.
Miller, a top freshman, brought him Darius Miles’ gun the night of the shooting after Miles texted him and asked him to, Tuscaloosa Police Detective Brandon Culpepper testified, according to news reports.
The allegation of Miller’s involvement on the night of the January 15 shooting came during a preliminary hearing for Miles and Michael Davis, who face capital murder charges in the death of 23-year-old Jamea Harris.
Former Tide player Miles is accused of supplying his gun to Davis, who fired it and killed Harris, prosecutors say.
Alabama coach Nate Oats told reporters Tuesday that the team was aware that Miller allegedly brought the gun to Miles, but the team’s leading scorer is not in “any kind of trouble.” He started every game from the shootout.
Miller was just “in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Oats said, later clarifying what he called his “unfortunate remarks” after receiving criticism on social media.
“We’ve known the situation,” Oats said at a news conference on Tuesday. “We have been fully cooperating with law enforcement throughout. I mean, the whole situation is just sad. The team closed the training session with a prayer for today’s situation, knowing that today we had this test. You think about Jamea and her family,” Oats said.
Miller has not been criminally charged. A team rep didn’t immediately know if Miller had an attorney.
“We knew it,” Oats said. “You can’t control everything that everyone does outside of training. Nobody knew it was going to happen. The college kids are out. Brandon hasn’t had any problems, nor is he in this case. Like the wrong place at the wrong time.
Oats acknowledged in his subsequent statement that those remarks “were poorly conveyed” and sought to clarify,
“We were notified by law enforcement that other student-athletes were in the vicinity, and law enforcement repeatedly told us that no other student-athletes were suspects,” Oats said. “They were just witnesses. Our understanding is that they have all been fully sincere and cooperative.
“I did not mean in any way to minimize the seriousness of this situation or the tragedy of that night. My prayers continue to Jamea Harris’ family.”
The 6-foot-9 Miller is the biggest star on the second-team Tide who earned his first No. 1 AP Poll ranking in 20 years last week. He is expected to be an NBA Draft pick.
The shooting occurred on the Strip, a commercial district of bars and restaurants catering to students near the Tuscaloosa campus. Harris was sitting in the passenger seat of a car when she was hit by a bullet, police said.
Investigators wrote in a court document that Miles, who had been a junior backup forward on the team, admitted he supplied 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 attorneys have presented differing accounts of the shooting. Chief Deputy District Attorney Paula Whitley told the judge there was ample evidence to proceed with the case against Miles and Davis.
A defense attorney suggested during Tuesday’s hearing that Miles was reacting defensively when he told Davis where the gun was.
“The reason the gun was given to Michael Davis was for protection,” said Mary Turner.
Defense attorneys have requested that Davis and Miles be released on bail. District Judge Joanne Jannik did not immediately issue a decision on the bail request.
Both Davis and Miles wiped away their tears as their mothers took the stand to testify that they would make sure their children followed the rules if they were allowed a bond.
After the courthouse, Harris’ mother told reporters she was frustrated with the focus on basketball when the shooting claimed her daughter’s life.
“He has a 5-year-old son who is still waiting for his mother to come home,” DeCarla Heard told reporters. “I want justice for my nephew.”