Work in Sports
Lewis trial: Day 5
Model backs defense account of Lewis' involvement
Posted: Tuesday May 30, 2000 10:36 PM
ATLANTA (AP) -- Prosecutors called four more witnesses Tuesday who failed to identify football star Ray Lewis as an aggressor in a brawl that left two men dead.
As the second week of testimony began, prosecutors still have produced only one witness who said the Baltimore Ravens linebacker actively participated in the fight.
Lewis and two friends, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, are charged with murder in the deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar, who were stabbed in the Jan. 31 fight outside an Atlanta nightclub after a post-Super Bowl party.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said Tuesday he planned to put Lewis' limousine driver, Duane Fassett, back on the stand to probe inconsistencies between his testimony and earlier statements.
In his opening statement, Howard promised that Fassett would testify that he saw all three defendants fighting with the victims and that Oakley and Sweeting admitted stabbing the men.
But on the stand, Fassett said he saw Lewis raise his hand during the brawl, but never saw him strike anyone.
Rehana Grant, a model who was with Lewis' party at a Super Bowl party, was the first witness Tuesday. She was given full immunity for her testimony.
She said she joined Lewis' group for a party at the Cobalt Lounge and was walking to Lewis' limousine when the brawl broke out in the street. The 26-year-old model from Norcross said she was "pretty intoxicated" and couldn't identify anyone in the fight.
"You didn't hear Ray Lewis encouraging anybody to stab anybody?" defense attorney Don Samuel asked. "You didn't see him assist anybody in stabbing anybody?"
"No," she replied.
The next witness, Lemetrius Twitty, a friend of the victims, did not say anything about Lewis, Sweeting or Oakley participating in the melee.
Twitty, 27, said he was at the Cobalt Lounge with a group of friends from Akron, Ohio. As he left, he saw a "commotion" and noticed Baker -- whom he called "my little guy" -- lying on the ground and thought he had been knocked unconscious.
Twitty said he ran off to get a truck that belonged to his friend Marlin Burros to retrieve the victims. But Burros stopped him, reached into the truck and grabbed a gun, and then started shooting at Lewis' limousine, Twitty said.
Under cross examination, Twitty said he could not see the fight clearly because there were too many people and he was too far away.Burros, 34, testified that he shot seven bullets at the limousine as it drove away. He said he fired the .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol at the tires, and not at the windows, to stop the vehicle.
"The people who was in the limo was the people who hurt the two guys lying in the street [Baker and Lollar]," Burros said when asked why he was trying to stop the limousine.
Burros said he later threw the gun into a wooded area.
Burros, who does not have immunity, said prosecutors told him he could be charged with several counts of aggravated assault. Defense attorneys suggested Burros testified Tuesday to avoid being charged.
The final witness Tuesday was Evelyn Sparks, a 24-year-old college student from Chicago who was in Lewis' limousine on the night of the killings.
Sparks said she saw two men attack Sweeting, and she said Lewis grabbed one of the men and pushed him away from Sweeting. She said Lewis kept telling everyone to get back into the limousine.
Defense attorneys will have a chance to cross examine Sparks on Wednesday.
Thus far the only witness who has testified that Lewis was an aggressor in the fight was Chester Anderson, who said he saw Lewis kicking a man during a street brawl. But the jury might not find Anderson credible since he is an admitted con-artist who is in jail on identification fraud charges.
Even if Lewis didn't stab anyone, he can be convicted of murder if the prosecution can convince a jury that Lewis participated in the brawl that led to the two deaths. All three defendants face up to life in prison if convicted.