Work in Sports
Ravens' Lewis charged with murder
Posted: Tuesday February 01, 2000 02:47 AM
ATLANTA (AP) -- Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis was charged with murder late Monday in the slayings of two people outside an Atlanta nightclub hours after the Super Bowl.
Lewis, middle linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL's leading tackler this season, was arrested after a day of investigation into the slaying near the Cobalt Lounge in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood about 4 a.m. Monday. He is the second NFL player charged with murder in less than two months.
Lewis was taken into custody and was expected to appear in court Tuesday morning. Earlier Monday, he told reporters that he had been questioned by police but cleared of any wrongdoing.
"I cooperated fully," Lewis told The Sun of Baltimore before he was arrested. "As for the situation, I have no comment."
Two men were stabbed during a fight that broke out after a party at the club. Witnesses said six men had fought and argued with the two victims. The men fled in a black Lincoln Navigator stretch limousine, firing at least five gunshots as they drove away.
Police found the vehicle in a parking lot behind a hotel near the shooting scene, Atlanta police spokesman John Quigley said.
Quigley and Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead both said they could not release details of the investigation.
Lewis, 24, was the only suspect named by police.
Charles Cook, operating partner of the Cobalt Lounge, said the club had closed about half an hour before the slayings and that there had been no altercation on the premises. He said Lewis had been at the club earlier in the week but did not know if he was there Sunday night.
The killings took place about 200 yards from the club, Cook said. He said he did not know the victims.
One man died at the scene and the other victim died at Grady Memorial Hospital. The Fulton County Medical Examiner's office identified the victims as Jacinta Baker, 21, and Richard Lollar, 24, both of Decatur.
Despite the report of shots, Atlanta police Lt. M.C. Smith said the preliminary investigation indicated both victims were stabbed to death.
Lewis, 24, was drafted by Baltimore in the first round of the 1996 draft after leaving the University of Miami following his junior season. He was the Ravens' MVP this season and in 1997.
"We're trying to gather as much information as we can," said team spokesman Kevin Byrne. "Frankly, most of the information we have received has been through the media. We have not spoken to Ray Lewis yet or his representative. We're waiting until we get more information until we comment."
Lewis had been scheduled to leave Atlanta Monday morning for the Pro Bowl, to be played Sunday in Honolulu, but had changed his flight to Tuesday when he found he was wanted for questioning, Byrne said.
The Bartow, Fla., native was an All-American for the Hurricanes and finished second in the voting for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker.
His best friend, Miami linebacker Marlin Barnes, was murdered in 1996 at the school. Lewis often wore a shirt with Barnes' picture.
Lewis has led the Ravens in tackles in each of the past four seasons and was tops in the league with 210 in 1997 and 167 this past season. The two-time Pro Bowler signed a contract extension after the 1998 season through the year 2003.
In December, Lewis was accused of punching a woman in a Baltimore bar and then leaving the scene. He was served a criminal summons in response to a complaint by Katrice Sherree Parker.
According to the police report, Lewis and Parker, 24, became involved in a dispute shortly before 1 a.m. Nov. 30 at the Windsor Mill Inn. Parker then called police and ultimately filed a complaint in District Court.
On Dec. 14, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Cherica Adams, who was pregnant with their son. Carruth was released by the Panthers after the charges were lodged.
Just last Friday, in his state of the NFL address, commissioner Paul Tagliabue commented on the recent rash of criminal charges against current players.
"Can we separate ourselves from society? Of course not," Tagliabue said. "We can't predict what NFL players will do any more than we can predict students shooting other students or workers shooting fellow workers."