A former University of Miami football player who has been charged in connection to the death of a former teammate pleaded not guilty on Friday.
During the Friday arraignment, prosecutors filed a second-degree murder charge against Rashaun Jones, and a lawyer for the former athlete entered a not guilty plea thereafter, The Associated Press reported. The Miami Herald noted that Jones was not there for the virtual court hearing.
When Jones was arrested last month, he was charged with first-degree murder. It is possible he could still face that charge, though it is unclear if he will. If prosecutors want to secure an indictment, a case would have to be presented by prosecutors to a grand jury, the Miami Herald reported.
Jones was arrested in August for his alleged involvement in the killing of his teammate, Bryan Pata, a defensive tackle for Miami who was considered likely to be drafted by the NFL. In November 2006, Pata was fatally shot after returning from team practice.
It was not until 15 years after Pata’s death that Jones was arrested, though investigators had for a while suspected Jones may have been involved, the Miami Herald noted.
Investigators later learned about multiple disputes between the two players, including a physical fight. Jones allegedly threatened to fire at his teammate, the victim's brother told investigators, the AP noted.
Jones told investigators that he was in his apartment when Pata had been murdered; however, cellphone records obtained suggested otherwise. Eyewitnesses also identified Jones as being in the parking lot outside of the apartment complex where the crime took place.
The Hill has reached out to Jones’s attorney for comment.