The former University of Miami football player charged in the 2006 shooting death of teammate Bryan Pata appeared in a Miami-Dade courtroom Friday.
Rashaun Jones was transported from Marion County, where he was arrested August 19th on charges including first degree murder stemming from the November 7th, 2006 shooting in Kendall.
He was given no bond on the charge.
"That is a tragedy that Mr. Pata was murdered back in 2006. It’s also a tragedy to arrest an innocent person 15 years later for the same evidence that the Miami Dade Police Department was aware of and failed to do anything about it," his attorney, Michael Mirer, said. "That is a tragedy, and Mr. Jones is looking forward to his day in court."
Jones, who was a teammate with Pata from 2004 to 2006, was arrested in the Ocala area as part of a joint operation between Miami-Dade Police and U.S. Marshals.
Detectives say the 22-year-old Pata was walking from his car toward the stairs at the apartment building when he was shot in the back of the head at the complex located off Southwest 77th Avenue and 93rd Street.
An ESPN story published in 2020 said Jones was a likely suspect, but no charges had been filed until Thursday.
“The Pata family has waited a long time to see the individual they had believed involved in Brian’s death arrested and charged,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “While the time needed to build sufficient evidence to ethically charge in a homicide can sometimes feel endless, families should know that the passion and determination of police and prosecutors to resolve unsolved cases does not diminish."
Police interviewed Jones on two separate occasions following the murder. In the first interview, Jones told investigators he was at his Miami residence, located at 7378 SW 80 Street, at the time of Pata’s death on November 7, 2006.
Police later unearthed phone records that showed Jones was using a cellphone tower near the scene of the homicide at 6:41 p.m., 19 minutes before Pata was shot and killed.
An eyewitness subsequently identified Jones in a photo lineup.
"People say closure, but I don't know if that's the right word to use because the pain never goes away. Bryan's never coming back, so it doesn't end," Edwin Pata, Byran's brother said. "It's somewhat lifted off your shoulder that an arrest has been made, but everything else stays the same.”
The youngest of nine siblings raised by a single mother, Pata had the potential for NFL stardom first in high school and later in Coral Gables. After finishing his prep career at Miami Central High School, the defensive lineman chose the ‘Canes over schools like Florida and Oklahoma.
He had 13 tackles and two sacks his senior season and was on a watch list for the award as the nation’s top defensive end. His family believed the motive for his murder was clear.
"He wanted to make it to the NFL and make my mother proud and he wanted to help his family," brother Edrick Pata told NBC 6 in 2017.