Sportswriter Sends Message on Alabama Coach’s Comments in Murder Case

Getty Stewart Mandel condemned Nate Oats for his comments about the Darius Miles shooting and Brandon Miller's involvement

University of Alabama head basketball coach Nate Oats took heat from a member of the media for his February 21 comments regarding the involvement of freshman star Brandon Miller in the murder case against one of Oats’ former players, Darius Miles, who has been charged with capital murder along with another Alabama student, Michael Davis, in the January 15 shooting death of Jamea Harris.

The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel criticized “the gall” of Oats to seemingly minimize the circumstances that have left a woman dead, two men behind bars and one of the country’s most promising college basketball stars possibly implicated in a murder.

Oats has since “walked back” his comments, according to the Associated Press, which included him saying, “We knew about [Miller’s involvement]. Can’t control everything anybody does outside of practice. Nobody knew that was going to happen. College kids are out, Brandon hasn’t been in any type of trouble nor is he in any type of trouble in this case. Wrong spot at the wrong time.”

Miller has not been charged with any crime and is not a suspect, according to the Associated Press. During Miles’ preliminary hearing on February 21, Tuscaloosa detective Branden Culpepper told the court that Miller brought Miles’ gun to him “after Miles texted him and asked him to do so,” according to the AP. Miller’s attorney, Jim Standridge, said Miller “never touched” the gun, according to ABC 33/40.

Miles and 20-year-old University of Alabama junior Michael Davis have been charged with capital murder in the January 15 shooting death of Harris while she was in a car with a friend. Police say Davis pulled the trigger on the shot that killed Harris, according to Tuscaloosa County court records obtained by Miller and fellow Alabama basketball player, Jaden Bradley, were also on the scene, according to a February 23 Associated Press story.

What Nate Oats Said After Darius Miles Shooting

Oats said he was fully aware of Miller’s involvement in the incident all along, according to The Alabama basketball coach revealed as much on February 21 after a hearing for Miles’ capital murder charge.

“We’ve known the situation since [it happened],” Oats said at the February 21 press conference. “We’ve been fully cooperating with law enforcement the entire time. The whole situation is sad. The team closed practice with a prayer for the situation today, knowing that we had this trial today. We think of Jamea and her family, Kaine. Really think about her son, Kaine, that was left behind. So it’s sad.”

Miller’s attorney said the gun had been in Miller’s car but said Miller “never handled or saw the gun and wasn’t involved in getting it into the hands of Davis,” according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile, the University of Alabama and Oats referred to Miller as a “cooperating witness,” according to the AP. Paula Whitley, the county’s chief deputy district attorney, said, “There’s nothing we could charge him with” according to the law, wrote in a February 22 story.

Jamea Harris’ Mother Describes Shooting Scene

Jamea Jonae Harris’ mother, DeCarla Heard, described to the scene at the shooting of her daughter on The Strip, a nightlife district of Tuscaloosa geared towards students at the University of Alabama.

“She (the cousin) said they were dancing around the car trying to get their attention,’’ Heard said. “They were like, ‘We got a boyfriend, we don’t want to talk. They kept going on and on and eventually her boyfriend in the back seat rolled down the window. He was like, ‘She already told you she got a boyfriend, you need to leave.'” According to Heard, one of the suspects repeatedly shouted, “You don’t know who I am, you don’t know what I do, I smack people.” She did not identify which suspected said that.

It was at that point when the victim, her boyfriend, and her cousin were blocked off from driving away from the scene. Heard described her daughter’s last moments. “He walked up to the car and pulled a gun,’’ she said. “He started shooting erratically, bullets going everywhere. He said he was running away shooting backwards at the car. That’s when the bullets struck my daughter.”