Work in Sports
'Mr. Lewis was not a participant'
Attorney: Murder charges based on word of 1 witness
Posted: Saturday February 05, 2000 03:15 PM
ATLANTA (AP) -- Police based murder charges against All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis on the word of one witness, his attorneys said Friday, adding that they have other witnesses who say Lewis wasn't involved in a fight that left two men dead.
Lewis' lawyers portrayed him as a bystander during the stabbing early Monday of Richard Lollar, 24, and Jacinth "Shorty" Baker, 21. They said Lewis' only concerns were acting as a peacemaker and herding his friends -- who had been attending a post-Super Bowl party in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood -- into a limousine and away from danger.
"We know the evidence will show Mr. Lewis was not a participant," said Jana Harris, an attorney representing the Baltimore Ravens linebacker. "Being present with people, having some knowledge of it, being nearby -- that is not a crime in this or any other state."
The attorneys released Lewis' arrest warrant and a police officer's affidavit quoting one witness as saying Lewis punched, beat and stabbed Lollar and Baker. The affidavit said the witness had known Lewis for more than a year.
Lewis can be tried for murder if he helped the killer or if he was involved in the fight that preceded the slayings. But Harris said many witnesses had told Lewis' attorneys that he did not participate in the assault.
She said Lewis tried to settle the fight, then became concerned for his friends' safety.
"He was shepherding a large group of people through a herd of chaos into his limousine," Harris said.
Two Atlanta homicide investigators were in Baltimore County, Md., on Friday working with local police, county police spokesman Bill Toohey said.
"We're trying to determine who was there and what their involvement was," Atlanta police spokesman John Quigley said.
Police still were looking for two men they believe were riding in Lewis' rented limousine, which reportedly was seen speeding away from the scene of the stabbings.
A.J. Johnson and Kwame King are wanted for questioning, but are not necessarily suspects, Quigley said. Johnson is a former University of Maryland player who had a tryout with the Miami Dolphins, and King grew up in Lewis' hometown of Lakeland, Fla.
Johnson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he has was not in Lewis' limousine after the Super Bowl and that he knew Lewis through another friend on the Ravens.
In Baltimore County Friday, Deputy State's Attorney Howard Merker said he was postponing a hearing and considering dropping an assault charge against Lewis for allegedly hitting a woman in a bar.
Merker said Friday he had received "fairly substantial and pretty convincing" statements from 15 to 20 witnesses who said Lewis did not attack the 24-year-old woman. Merker postponed a Feb. 9 hearing on the charge to give the woman a chance to provide statements supporting her story.