Attorneys Summarize Darius Miles’ Argument for Immunity in Capital Murder Case
Defense attorneys for former Alabama basketball player Darius Miles have summarized their arguments that he feared for his life when he gave a friend a handgun moments before a 23-year-old mother was killed in the crossfire of a January gunfight on the Strip.
As the Thread has extensively reported, Darius Miles and his lifelong friend Michael Davis were arrested in January and charged with the capital murder of Jamea Harris, who was fatally shot when her boyfriend Cedric Johnson exchanged gunfire with Davis.
Miles is represented by Mary Turner and others within the Turner Law Group, and they have argued from the start that Cedric Johnson and a group of men he was traveling with were the aggressors, that Miles witnessed Jamea Harris pass a handgun to Johnson and when Miles provided his legally owned handgun to Michael Davis, it was out of fear for his own life.
They argued that case over the course of a three-day immunity hearing that stretched from late August to late September, but were frustrated by an ongoing inability to get Cedric Johnson and his compatriots to appear in court.
The document they filed Thursday summarizes the case for self-defense.
January 15th, 2023
To rehash the events leading up to the killing as the defense presents them, Darius Miles and Michael Davis, his lifelong friend from Maryland, were at a restaurant and bar on the Strip called Twelve25 on the night of January 14th with other members of Alabama basketball team to celebrate a home victory over LSU.
Jamea Harris was with her cousin Asia Humphrey and her boyfriend Cedric Johnson, and they were joined by three other men - Shu'Bonte Greene, Jack Thompson and a man called KeeVon who reportedly died shortly after the shooting.
The violence allegedly stemmed from an altercation after all parties left the club. Michael Davis was dancing in the street on University Boulevard and Cedric Johnson was sitting in the back of Jamea Harris' Jeep. Johnson reportedly took issue with the way Davis was dancing and words were exchanged.
Miles, who had been walking away down Grace Street, stopped and returned to the Jeep to get Davis away from potential conflict. The defense said it was at that moment when Miles 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 Twelve25, Miles had left his gun in the back of the car and Miller did not party at Twelve25 that night and had left the area. After he reportedly saw Johnson arm himself, Miles texted Miller asking him to bring the gun back.
Meanwhile, Johnson had gotten out of the Jeep, crossed University Boulevard and talked with ShuBonte Greene, Jack Thompson and KeeVon.
Johnson got back in the Jeep, in the driver's seat this time, and the other three men walked to the stolen Chevrolet Impala SheBonte Green drove from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa that night.
The defense claims Jack Thompson had armed himself with a pump-action shotgun he retrieved from the trunk of the Impala, though surveillance footage of that moment shown in court hearings was hard to make out conclusively.
Although the members of the "Johnson party" have said they were all getting ready to leave the Strip and return to Birmingham, the defense notes they instead made a U-turn with Cedric driving the Jeep in front and Greene, Thompson and Keevon following in the Impala. Johnson had turned the Jeep's headlights off.
At the same time, Brandon Miller was arriving in his Charger and had a dashboard camera running. That footage reportedly shows Miles approaching, realizing that Johnson is drawing near with the Jeep, pointing them out and walking faster toward Miller's car.
Miles is heard on the footage telling Michael Davis that his gun was in the back seat, under a hat, with a round in the chamber and ready to fire.
As Miles walked away from the Charger to check on his girlfriend Skylar Essex, Michael Davis approached the Jeep, armed with Miles' semiautomatic. He exchanged shots with Cedric Johnson, who was armed with a large-caliber revolver and firing from the driver's seat. The prosecution and defense attorneys disagree who shot first, but that detail is not central to Miles' self-defense argument.
Jamea Harris was shot in the head, and Johnson drove the Jeep away from the scene to the Walk of Champions, where he made contact with a UAPD officer and a large police response began.
Michael Davis was wounded, struck in the shoulder by one bullet and grazed by another.
The Case for Immunity
Attorneys for Darius Miles say he saw Jamea Harris pass a gun to Cedric Johnson, that he demonstrated fear for his life by texting Brandon Miller and asking for his gun, "and that fear only grew when he saw Cedric Johnson closing in on Miles and his friends with the Jeep’s lights off."
Darius Miles was not engaged in unlawful activity, he did not provoke any of the actions that led to Harris' death, he did not engage in combat by agreement, and he was not the initial aggressor - or present at all - when then shooting started.
"Darius Miles reasonably feared imminent unlawful deadly physical force, as well as an imminent assault in the first or second degree and imminent robbery. He was in a place where he had the right to be and was not engaged in unlawful activity. None of the exceptions apply," his attorneys wrote. "Darius Miles has met his burden of proving, by a mere preponderance of the evidence, that he is entitled to immunity and therefore, he must be found immune from prosecution."
The state will have two weeks to file its response to the summary from the defense before circuit judge Daniel Pruet decides if the capital murder case against Miles will continue.
Miles and Davis are being represented by different lawyers and tried separately. For more on the capital murder cases both men as they continue to develop in circuit court, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.
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