Tuscaloosa Judge Denies Motion to Dismiss Capital Murder Case Against Darius Miles
A judge in Tuscaloosa County has denied a motion to dismiss the ongoing capital murder case filed against former Alabama basketball player Darius Miles.
As the Thread has extensively reported, Miles has been jailed since mid-January for the shooting death of 23-year-old Jamea Harris, who was killed in an exchange of gunfire between two other men, Michael Davis and Cedric Johnson.
Defense attorneys representing Miles have argued for the last several months that he was afraid for his life and acted in self-defense when he gave Davis the gun used in the deadly shooting moments later.
Circuit Judge Daniel Pruet sided with the state Wednesday and denied a motion to dismiss the capital murder charge against Miles.
As District Attorney Hays Webb noted in his case to deny the motion to dismiss the case, the circumstances under which a person can legally kill another person are extremely limited and Miles and his legal team did not prove they fit the criteria, Pruet ruled.
"Even with the statute's only requiring the Defendant to make his showing by a preponderance of the evidence, the evidence submitted at the hearing falls far short of that threshold," Pruet said in his ruling.
Miles and his legal team say he was trying to pull his friend Michael Davis away from a verbal altercation with Cedric Johnson, who was in a Jeep with Jamea Harris and another woman.
Miles claims that's when he saw Jamea Harris, who was in the front of the Jeep, turn around and pass a firearm to Cedric Johnson.
Miles doesn't have a driver's license and had ridden around Tuscaloosa with his basketball teammates that day, including in freshman superstar Brandon Miller's Dodge Charger. Because firearms are not allowed inside the club he'd been in earlier that night, Miles had left his gun in the back of the car and Miller had left the area. After he reportedly saw Johnson arm himself, Miles texted Miller asking him to bring the gun back.
Miller arrived, Miles gave the gun to Davis, and around a minute later, a gunfight erupted between Davis and Cedric Johnson. Harris was shot and killed, Davis was wounded and fled the scene.
Pruet's 10-page ruling demonstrates clear frustration about the questions that still remain in this case, and on several different occasions noted that his court has heard no testimony about key parts of the case. As one of many examples, he said the defense failed to adequately describe the circumstances of the altercation between Michael Davis and Cedric Johnson that allegedly served as the catalyst for the shootout.
"The defendant... chose not to present any evidence related to why the [Michael Davis] was agitated (if he was, in fact, agitated), which occupant of the Jeep the co-defendant was talking to, whether the co-defendant had ever met any of the people inside the Jeep, whether they had some sort of ongoing dispute, whether they had engaged in any sort of hostility in or near Twelve25, or any other evidence whatsoever that could be used to appropriately describe the co-defendant's interaction with the people in the Jeep as a 'verbal altercation,'" Pruet wrote.
Ditto for the text message Miles sent to Brandon Miller asking for his gun, which the defense said proved that Darius Miles was afraid for his life.
"As with every other aspect of this case, the defendant offered the text message into evidence without any supporting testimony, and therefore, without any context," Pruet wrote.
Pruet signaled earlier this year that he might be open to revisit an earlier decision to keep Miles jailed without bond, but for now the former Alabama basketball player will remain there as this case begins a slow crawl toward a jury trial.
The case against Michael Davis, also jailed and charged with capital murder, is progressing separately and is not due for another hearing until later this year or in early 2024.
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