BOZEMAN, Mont. -- Two former Montana State University athletes were arrested and charged with murder Thursday in the shooting death of a suspected cocaine dealer whose body was found last week at the school's agronomy farm.
Former basketball player Branden Miller and former football player John LeBrum, both 22, were arrested and charged in the death of Jason Cody Wright. Both men also are accused of kidnapping
Wright and destroying evidence in his murder.
Miller was held on $1 million bail after appearing in court on a
murder charge. LeBrum is expected to appear in court Friday, also
on a murder charge.
Attempts to reach Miller's lawyer, deputy public defender Eric
Brewer, for comment Thursday night were unsuccessful. Brewer does
not have a listed home phone number.
Miller withdrew from Montana State in April, while LeBrum is
currently not a student at the university, according to a statement
released Thursday from the school.
Prosecutors, in court documents, said that Miller told
detectives that he gave LeBrum a ride to a restaurant where Wright
was dining early on June 23. The two waited for Wright to come
outside, then attacked him. Wright fell down, and Lebrum threw him
into the back of Wright's sport utility vehicle and drove away.
Miller told authorities he drove off in a different direction in
his own car.
Wright's body was found in a field on the university's Arthur
Post Agronomy Farm last Friday. The 26-year-old man died of gunshot
wounds, the Gallatin County coroner said. Investigators found
several .40-caliber shell casings near his body.
Investigators searched Wright's apartment Sunday and found "pays and owes" sheets related to drug dealing, the Bozeman Daily
Chronicle reported. Police said they believe Wright had been
A prosecutor's affidavit said investigators found Wright's
identification and several personal items in a garbage container
outside Miller's residence.
The Belgrade News reported that Miller told detectives Monday
that he helped LeBrum wipe down Wright's vehicle with bleach and
that they left it in Belgrade, where sheriff's deputies found it
The affidavit says James Clark, a former assistant basketball
coach at the school, alerted detectives about a locker at the
school's arena containing a bag with handguns. Clark told
detectives the bag had been in Miller's possession.
One of the handguns found in the locker was the same caliber as
the shell casings found near Wright's body, Gallatin County Sheriff
James Cashell said Thursday during a news conference.
Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert said the investigation is
ongoing, and additional people might be charged.
Montana State president Geoffrey Gamble said the university
"will do everything we can" to help with the investigation.
"My thoughts continue to be with the victim's family," Gamble
said in a statement. "Today, I'm even more distressed to learn
that a former student has been arrested in connection with the
Miller, from Milwaukee, started 27 of 28 games for the basketball team in 2004-05, his first year at the school. He was
the team's third-leading scorer at 10.8 points a game when he
became academically ineligible and was dismissed Dec. 6.
LeBrum, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was a freshman football player in the fall of 2003. He redshirted during that season and was dismissed from the team on Aug. 30, 2004, for disciplinary
reasons, school sports information director Bill Lamberty said.
In October 2005, LeBrum broke a man's jaw in a fight during a
pickup basketball game on campus, and eventually was convicted of
felony criminal endangerment.