15 Years After Murder of 'Canes Star, Teammate Is Arrested

Rashaun Jones pleads not guilty in 2006 slaying of University of Miami player Bryan Pata
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2021 12:25 PM CDT
Updated Sep 17, 2021 12:21 PM CDT
Arrest in Cold Case of 'Canes Star Murdered in 2006
In this Nov. 23, 2006, file photo, members of Bryan Pata's family hold up his jersey at the beginning of an NCAA college football game between Miami and Boston College at the Orange Bowl in Miami.   (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez, File)

Update: A former player on the University of Miami football team has pleaded not guilty to killing a teammate in 2006. Raushan Jones, 35, is currently charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of Bryan Pata, 22, though that could eventually be bumped up to a first-degree count. Our original file from last month on the cold case follows:

On Nov. 7, 2006, Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman Bryan Pata, 22, a senior at the University of Miami and an up-and-coming football player who had the NFL in his sights, was gunned down after practice outside his apartment in the Kendall suburb of Miami. Now, 15 years later, in what the Miami Herald calls "one of South Florida's most infamous unsolved killings," police finally say they have their man. And that man is someone Pata knew: Rashaun Jones, a former defensive back for the 'Canes, and Pata's teammate. Jones, now 35, was arrested Thursday in Marion County by the Miami-Dade homicide squad on a charge of first-degree murder. He'll be extradited to Miami-Dade County ahead of his trial.

The Herald notes that police and prosecutors had suspected Jones from the start, and an ESPN article from late last year went into depth on the murder and Jones' ties to Pata, including the fact that he'd dated Pata's girlfriend before Pata did, and that Pata had allegedly gotten into a physical fight with Jones and beaten him, per Jones' arrest warrant, reports CNN. After the murder, some of Jones' actions raised eyebrows, including ditching a mandatory Hurricanes meeting after Pata was killed; asking a classmate to borrow money for an undisclosed reason; and changing his cell number soon after the murder. Jones also, along with other Hurricanes players, publicly grieved for Pata, including at an Orange Bowl game where they all took a knee in Pata's honor.

In April 2019, Jones denied to ESPN he'd had anything to do with the murder. "What happened 12 years ago, happened 12 years ago," he said. "It's got nothing to do with me ... I didn't do it." Edwin Pata, now on the University of Miami's recruiting staff, tells the Herald he has "mixed emotions" about Jones' arrest, while Manny Diaz, the college's football coach, says he's "grateful" for everyone who worked over the years to make this arrest. "Our thoughts are with the Pata family, because we knew how great Edwin is," Diaz says. "We've gotten to know his family and we've got a lot of love for them." (Read more cold cases stories.)

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