DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – The son of a former Dallas Mavericks player has been arrested and charged with capital murder.
20-Year-Old Nickey Van Exel, son of former Mav and current Atlanta Hawks Assistant Coach Nick Van Exel is accused of killing a friend. He was arrested Wednesday night.
The elder Van Exel played for the Dallas Mavericks from 2001 to 2003 as part of an NBA career that spanned 13 seasons. He is now player development instructor for the Atlanta Hawks.
Dallas Police spokesman Craig Miller says the younger Van Exel shot and killed longtime friend Bradley Eyo Sunday in Garland, driving to Lake Ray Hubbard to dump the body.
Miller says they are still early in their investigation, and that Nicky Van Exel is cooperating.
Miller says the shot gun used in the murder has not been recovered. He says several items have also gone missing from Eyo’s possession, leading police to believe a theft occurred as well.
The younger Van Exel’s attorney, Paul Johnson, says his client told police he killed Eyo, a close friend, when a shotgun they were playing with accidently went off and later ‘panicked’ and moved the body.
He said Van Exel didn’t know the gun, which belonged to his stepfather, was loaded.
Johnson said after the shooting Van Exel tossed the gun in a creek.
“It’s a real sad situation,” Johnson said. “Emotions are running high, and, obviously, we recognize that some very bad decisions were made on how he responded.”
Johnson said he spoke to the elder Van Exel and that he and others who knew Eyo were deeply saddened.
“Bradley was like part of the family,” Johnson said.
Eyo’s family is angry. “Why Nick? Why did you kill my son,” said Oyo Bassey Eyo, the victim’s father. Eyo said Van Exel was like a son and had been friends with Bradley for 12 years.
Eyo’s father said his son left the house after midnight on Christmas, presumably to walk across the street to visit Van Exel. Sunday morning he received a call that his son’s body had been found.
Eyo said Van Exel visited the family that day to comfort them in the loss of their son and his friend. “He prayed with the mom, gave her hug and said we are going to find who killed Bradley,” said the family’s pastor Francis Uzonwanne.
On Wednesday, police said Van Excel confessed to shooting Eyo but says it was an accident.
“If it was an accident why would he take off his wristwatch, his shoes and take his cellphone and hide them and then carry his 6’3 body down the stairs, into the garage and into his mother’s truck…drive him a mile out there and dump his body,” said Uzonwanne.
Oyo Eyo now calls Van Excel a killer, and wants him to tell the truth. “I feel disappointed and betrayed.”
A vigil for Eyo is slated for next Thursday.
Nickey Van Exel is being held at Dallas’ Lew Sterrett Justice Center on a $1 Million bond.
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