Parents of shooting victim rip Alabama and Nate Oats for letting Brandon Miller play
DeCarla Cotton said it’s "unimaginable" that Alabama allowed basketball star Brandon Miller to play the day after law enforcement testified that Miller delivered the gun used to kill Cotton’s 23-year-old daughter.
In a preliminary hearing Tuesday in Tuscaloosa, police testified that Miller brought the gun used in the Jan. 15 killing of Jamea Jonae Harris, which led to capital murder charges against then-teammate Darius Miles and Michael “Buzz” Davis. Miller has not been charged.
On Wednesday, Miller scored 41 points and led second-ranked Alabama to a 78-76 victory over South Carolina.
“It’s just unimaginable, and it’s like his life is just going on,’’ Cotton told USA TODAY Sports on Thursday. “He took a brief pause and it didn’t stop. It’s like, OK, slap on the wrist and go play ball.
“They’re worried about his career, but what about this this 5-year-old boy (Harris’ son, Kaine). He’s the true victim in all this. He won’t have a mother anymore to influence his growing up and who he’s going to be.’’
Miller, a freshman, is a candidate for national player of the year and has been projected a Top 5 pick for the NBA draft in June. He has helped lead Alabama to a 24-4 record and No. 2 ranking in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll.
Cotton said it should have been clear to Miller that the gun could result in violence. The gun belonged to Miles, who has since been removed from the Alabama basketball team. Miller brought the gun after Miles sent him a text asking for it, according to police testimony.
“When somebody says bring a gun to them, what do you think they’re going to do with it?’’ Cotton said. “And if there was no gun, she would not be dead.’’
An attorney representing Brandon Miller said Wednesday the Alabama basketball star "never touched the gun, was not involved in its exchange ... in any way, and never knew that illegal activity involving the gun would occur."
Harris’ stepfather, Kelvin Heard, said the handling of the situation by Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats has been “godawful.’’ Heard said Oats “crossed the line Tuesday,’’ when Oats said Miller had been “at the wrong spot at the wrong time.’’
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Oats later issued a statement saying, “In no way did I intend to downplay the seriousness of this situation or the tragedy of that night. My prayers continue to go out to Jamea Harris’s family.’’
Said Heard, “The retraction meant nothing to us because over this five-week period, he has made a habit of making reckless statements. When I say reckless, I mean statements not considering the victim in this whole thing, which is Jamea Harris.’’
Tuesday's preliminary hearing resulted in a denial of bond for Miles and Davis, and a referral to a grand jury on the charges against them.
Contributing: The Tuscaloosa News
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alabama's Brandon Miller plays, infuriating shooting victim's parents