There was a glaring question raised by Tuesday’s courtroom testimony detailing Brandon Miller’s involvement in the shooting death of a woman last month in Tuscaloosa: why did the basketball star Hasn’t Alabama been charged with a crime?
Did Miller simply show poor judgment the night of the fatal shooting, when he allegedly took his sidearm to teammate Darius Miles after Miles texted Miller to do so? Or does the alleged delivery of the gun used to kill 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris potentially make Miller an accomplice to murder?
Asked Tuesday by AL.com why Miller has not been charged with a crime, Tuscaloosa Chief Assistant District Attorney Paula Whitley said, “We can’t blame him.” Legal experts told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday that the statement suggests Whitley and his colleagues lack sufficient evidence to prove that Miller intended to assist in a crime.
“They say they have no evidence that he knew what the gun would be used for,” said Philip Holloway, a Georgia criminal defense attorney who has been following the case. “They would have to prove that when he provided the weapon to the third party he was knowingly participating in some sort of criminal act. If he didn’t know and there was nothing else illegal about the transfer of that weapon, then there’s no crime.
That’s essentially what Miller’s Tuscaloosa-based attorney argued in a statement released Wednesday. Attorney Jim Standridge said when Miller took Miles to a Tuscaloosa nightclub the night of the shooting, Miles brought his handgun and left it hidden under clothing in the backseat of the car. Miller. Miller “never saw the handgun, nor handled it,” according to Standridge.
Miller, the second-ranked Crimson Tide leading scorer and potential lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, was already on his way back to the nightclub to pick up Miles, according to Standridge, when Miles texted asking Miller to bring his gun. . By then, Miles and longtime friend Michael Davis had reportedly already met Harris and her boyfriend outside the club and had a falling out. Davis danced in front of Harris’ black Jeep and tried to get his phone number, according to AL.com. Harris’ boyfriend told Davis to move on.
When Miller arrived on the scene, Miles told Davis where the gun was and that there was a bullet in the chamber. Minutes later, Davis allegedly fired into the victim’s Jeep, hitting Harris in the face. Harris’ boyfriend Cedric Johnson reportedly fought back, injuring Davis.
Standridge didn’t dispute that Miller was present when the shooting happened, but said he “never got out of his vehicle or interacted with anyone at Ms. Harris’s party.” Miller “never touched the weapon”, according to Standridge, “was in no way involved in his dealings with Mr. Davis and never knew that any illegal activity involving the weapon would occur”.
“He had no knowledge of the intent to use a weapon,” Standridge concluded.
Legal experts say Standridge’s emphasis on Miller’s intent is not accidental. According to Alabama law, a person can only be convicted of aiding and abetting a crime if they aid another “with intent to promote or aid in the commission of the offense.”
“He may have made the wrong choice in doing what he did, but there’s apparently no evidence that he knew what the weapon would be used for,” the lawyer for Yahoo Sports told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday. Birmingham Criminal Defence, Tommy Spina. “Can they prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he had a specific intent to aid and abet the death of this young woman? I think they think they can’t, and that’s why they didn’t charge him.
A judge ruled Tuesday there was enough evidence to charge Miles and Davis with capital murder. Miller has conducted several interviews with investigators and voluntarily granted them access to his phone and vehicle, according to his attorney, but he has so far been treated as a witness.
The revelation that Miller is entangled in Harris’ fatal shooting has drawn more attention to the incident. Not only is Miller the best player on an Alabama team that is 24-4 and on course for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament next month, but the rookie from 6-foot-9 could also be the NBA’s best prospect playing college basketball. season.
Miller has started every game for Alabama since the Jan. 15 shootout and is averaging 18.7 points and 8.0 rebounds this season. Coach Nate Oats said Tuesday he was aware of Miller’s presence at the murder scene, but that Miller “has no problem.”
Standridge’s statement refuted reports that Miller’s automobile blocked the road where the victim’s Jeep was parked and prevented her from escaping. The attorney said Grace Street “was never blocked by Brandon’s vehicle” and that Miller had already parked when the Jeep pulled up behind him.
Holloway and Spina said it was likely the Tuscaloosa district attorney’s office reviewed the location of Miller’s vehicle and determined that the evidence did not show he intended to block the escape route from the town. victim.
“To charge him with a crime, they would have to prove that was the purpose of using the vehicle in this way,” Holloway said.
Lawyers who spoke to Yahoo Sports said the Tuscaloosa District Attorney’s Office may continue to investigate Miller, but he is in a good position at this time. Without proof that Miller intended to help Miles and Davis commit a crime, the prosecutor’s office cannot hope to build a case against him, they said.
“Was it a good idea to take the gun to a friend who had been partying late at night?” said Alabama attorney Bart Siniard. “No, that’s not a good idea. But without more evidence of intent, it’s not a crime.
“You cannot be held criminally responsible for bringing someone their own gun. You have to show that you brought it knowing they were going to use it to hurt someone.