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Lewis trial: Day 4

Walls never saw punches; Anderson saw Lewis kick

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Posted: Saturday May 27, 2000 01:30 AM

  Chester Anderson Chester Anderson told jurors Friday that he saw Ray Lewis kick a man who was lying on the ground. AP

ATLANTA (AP) -- A witness testified Friday that he saw football star Ray Lewis kicking a small man in a street brawl that led to two stabbing deaths.

Chester Anderson, in jail on identification fraud charges, told jurors he saw Lewis kick a man who was lying on the ground on an Atlanta street as bars were closing the morning after the Super Bowl.

Anderson, who admitted to using about 30 different names and stealing the identification of about seven people, was using former pro football player Bam Morris' NFL identification to get into Super Bowl parties free.

Anderson said he was walking from another bar on Jan. 31 when he came upon the fight. He is the first witness in the four-day trial to testify that Lewis was an active participant in the melee.

Lewis, the leading tackler in the NFL last season, is charged with murder along with friends Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting for the deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. Even if he didn't stab the victims, he could be convicted of murder if he was involved in the fight that led to the killings. at the Lewis Murder Trial's Nick Charles was at the Ray Lewis murder trial on Friday and reported on the testimony of witness Chester Anderson on the witness stand.

"The prosecution may have gained some badly needed momentum through a curious witness. Chester Anderson, a felon convicted of credit fraud and forgery who has gone by many names, including those of his friend, former NFL running back Byron 'Bam' Morris, testified Friday that he saw Ray Lewis assault one of the victims.

The prosecution team told that when the trial resumes next week, they will finish with witness testimony and then call on forensic experts and physical evidence to paint the blood trail they promised."

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Baker and Lollar were stabbed in a brawl after a post-Super Bowl party at a nightclub in Atlanta. Lewis, 25, was in town to take part in Super Bowl activities.

Anderson said he waited several weeks to come forward because of a promise he made to friends he was with on the night of Jan. 31.

"When we left the scene we had a mutual agreement not to say anything," Anderson said.

Lewis' lawyer Ed Garland attacked Anderson's credibility, pointing out that he has a long criminal record and a federal indictment for fraud pending in Arkansas. Garland also suggested Anderson was testifying in hopes of winning leniency in his pending legal problems -- a claim Anderson denied.

"Would you know the truth if you bumped into it?" Garland asked.

The prosecution called Bruno DiSiena, a Cleveland restaurant owner, to corroborate Anderson's story. DiSiena told the jury he spent the weekend hanging out with Anderson, who he thought was a Kansas City Chiefs football player named Byron. DiSiena said Anderson told him he saw Lewis kicking someone as they walked past the scene of the killings.

Local look
The Baltimore Sun is using the legal expertise of Baltimore attorney Irwin Kramer to dissect the Lewis case. Kramer discussed the fourth day of the trial, weighing in on topics like Chester Anderson's credibility and Lewis' possible obstruction of the investigation.

"The prosecution is asking the jury to believe an individual [Anderson] who is charged with identity fraud, who admitted to using 30 different names and stealing identification from seven individuals," Kramer said. "He's someone who even impersonated Bam Morris to get in parties for free. He's a person with more than his share of credentials at the lying game."

"There does seem to be evidence he [Lewis] might have done that [misled police] by asking witnesses to keep their mouths shut," Kramer said. "You have no right to tell others to refrain from talking to police. Lewis can't face consequences for that in this trial, but there could be obstruction of justice charges. The more practical question is whether the prosecution, if it loses the murder case, will ever want to bother with Ray Lewis again." 

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said he planned to call other witnesses to buttress Anderson's statement when the trial resumes Tuesday.

"We've got some other witnesses who [Anderson] also told about this incident, and I think once the jurors hear that, I think you'll see that what he says is believable," Howard said.

Lewis' lawyers said they were pleased with the first week of testimony.

"It went as well as any criminal trial I've ever been involved in in 20 years," said attorney Don Samuel. "Up until Chester, every single witness absolutely exonerated Ray."

Earlier Friday, a woman riding in Lewis' limousine testified she did not see him throw any punches or kick anyone during the fight.

Keiva Walls, a Houston hairstylist who met the NFL star for the first time Super Bowl weekend, said she saw blood in the limousine after a melee. Walls also testified that she was in Lewis' hotel room after the fight and heard him say, "I'm not trying to end my career like this." She said at the time she did not know two men had been killed.

Patrick Ozonu, a cab driver, told the jury he saw a man with an athletic build standing over a body and pointing angrily.

"He has a body I could envy. He was built like a V," Ozonu said. "He kept on pointing and talking to the body that was down."

But under cross examination, Ozonu said that man was smaller than Lewis. Garland suggested the man pointing was a friend of the victim, and Ozonu said that was a possibility.

Ozonu said he saw six men beating one man, but he could not identify anyone in the fight.

Walls said 11 people and a driver were in Lewis' limousine after the fight, including two people known to Walls as Gino and Claudus, who police have not found or identified.

Walls said she saw no knives, punches or kicks.

"You never saw anyone who is on trial in this case with a knife?" asked Steve Sadow, Sweeting's attorney, during cross examination.

"That's correct," Walls said.

However, Walls did testify that on her way home, a friend named Carlos got out of the car with a brown paper bag and started walking toward a garbage bin.

Related information
All-Pro linebacker, co-defendants face murder charges's Charles: Lewis trial begins with four prosecution witnesses called
Witness says he didn't see defendants with knife
CNNSI's Charles: Limo driver testifies
Chester Anderson tells assistant district attorney Clint Rucker that he saw Ray Lewis kicking one of the victims.
  • Start(1.30 M)
Lewis' attorney Ed Garland questions Chester Anderson's credibility. (209 K)
District attorney Paul Howard interacts with Anderson. (224 K)
Reporter Jon Morgan of The Baltimore Sun addresses the issue of Anderson's credibility. (177 K)
Morgan believes Anderson's attention to detail may appeal to some jurors. (171 K)
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