DeCarla Heard was playing a game in the living room with her grandson when her daughter, Jamea Harris, accidentally FaceTimed her. It was around 8 p.m. on Jan. 14, a Saturday, and Harris was in her car heading to a night out with friends near the University of Alabama campus.
It had been a long day for Harris, a 23-year-old mom who worked nights, and she wanted to unwind. She left her son with her mom and headed from their Birmingham home to Tuscaloosa to spend time with friends.
Harris quickly realized she'd inadvertently dialed her mom, but, like always, her 5-year-old son Kaine pulled her in, so she didn't hang up.
"Hey," Harris asked her mom, "what are y'all doing?"
Kaine was cheating at Connect 4, and they had a good laugh about it. He always had to win.
"Tell him to come to the phone," Harris told her mom, and Kaine danced over to see Harris on the screen. She told him he was being silly, then Kaine ran back to his game.
"I love you," Heard told her daughter before they hung up.
Heard couldn't sleep that night and wasn't sure why. She tossed and turned, and then she heard a knock at 7 a.m. She nervously ran to the door and saw police officers. They told her she needed to call the Tuscaloosa police department. The officers waited there with her, but by then, Heard already knew.
"Don't tell me she's dead!" Heard said. "Don't tell me she's dead!"
The story of Jamea Harris' death starts as Tuscaloosa celebrated the No. 4 Alabama men's basketball team's 106-66 throttling of LSU. Young people headed out for a Saturday night on The Strip, a stretch of University Boulevard near Bryant-Denny Stadium known for its dining and nightlife, and two separate groups converged while waiting in line to get into a crowded bar before midnight. One group included Harris, her boyfriend and her cousin. The other group included several members of the Alabama men's basketball team.
By the time the sun came up on Sunday morning, Harris' son had lost his mother, fatally shot in the passenger seat of her Jeep parked just off The Strip. Later that day, a member of the men's basketball team and his childhood friend were arrested in connection with the shooting. By the end of the day, the parents of those two men learned that their sons had been charged with capital murder.