Work in Sports
Witness: Lewis fought with victim
Posted: Wednesday March 29, 2000 01:26 PM
ATLANTA (AP) -- A witness to the street brawl that led to murder charges against Ray Lewis told police the NFL star fought with one of the victims, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday.
Jeff Gwen, of Akron, Ohio, a friend of the two men who were stabbed to death, said the 250-pound player took a gold chain from his neck, indicating he was ready to fight, the newspaper said.
Gwen told police he then saw Lewis fighting with one of the victims, but he said he did not see Lewis holding a knife, the newspaper said.
Defense lawyers have said the Baltimore Ravens linebacker acted as a peacemaker, trying to break up the brawl and get his companions into his limousine. The fight happened early in the morning after the Jan. 30 Super Bowl.
The newspaper said Gwen's statements and those of Lewis' limousine driver were used by prosecutors to obtain the Feb. 11 murder indictment against Lewis and co-defendants Reginald Oakley, 31, of Baltimore and Joseph Sweeting, 34, of Miami.
Richard Lollar, 24, and Jacinth Baker, 21, Akron natives who lived in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur, were fatally stabbed.
According to statements given by witnesses who were members of Lewis' party, Lollar, Baker and their friends instigated the fight. Someone at the scene fired at the fleeing limo, striking it five times and flattening a tire.
Gwen, 26, said he came to Atlanta for Super Bowl parties and ran into Lollar and Baker at the Cobalt lounge in Buckhead. In a previous interview with the Journal-Constitution, Gwen said he was on the sidewalk when the fight with Lewis' entourage erupted, and he jumped in to protect his friends.
He said he fled after seeing an opponent brandish a knife. A short time later, Gwen said he saw his friends bleeding on the street.
Gwen is sure to be asked by defense lawyers about his criminal record and why he left the scene before police arrived. He gave his first statement to police on Feb. 9, more than a week after the slayings occurred.
The day after that, he pleaded guilty in Akron to violating probation on felony drug charges. Gwen was convicted in January 1999 of preparing marijuana for sale. He was placed on two years' probation.