In one of South Florida’s most infamous unsolved murder cases, star University of Miami defensive lineman Bryan Pata was shot to death outside his apartment 15 years ago. On Thursday, police detectives finally made an arrest: a former Hurricanes teammate.
Arrested was Rashaun Jones, 35, of Lake City, a former Miami defensive back. He’d long been a suspect in the Pata case — he’d once gotten into a fistfight with Pata and also dated the slain player’s girlfriend — but had never before been charged.
He’d never been identified publicly as a suspect until ESPN published a story last year naming the former player as Pata’s potential killer.
Pata was a 22-year-old senior and budding star when he was shot in the back of the head and killed outside his home at the Colony Apartments in Kendall on Nov. 7, 2006. Pata, who was expected to be a high NFL draft pick, had just returned from practice.
There were no direct eyewitnesses to the shooting.
The police department’s homicide bureau had long been tight-lipped about details of the investigation, but eventually released some documents in the case to ESPN. Detectives investigated a host of people, including Pata’s ex-girlfriend, Jada Brody, and her twin brother, who was in Boston at the time.
ESPN’s report suggested that Jones appeared to be the most viable suspect. The network found one police records cover sheet that described Jones as a “suspect” but without explaining any details why.
The documents obtained by ESPN also revealed that in the hours after the shooting, Jones — who had been suspended because of a third positive marijuana test — skipped a mandatory team meeting at the campus athletic center. The story also says Jones changed his phone number the day of the shooting and asked another student athlete “to borrow money to go out of town.”
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