Lewis' lawyer fails to get bail

Affidavit says witness saw star linebacker participate in killings

February 05, 2000|By Peter Hermann and Ann LoLordo | Peter Hermann and Ann LoLordo,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- A lawyer for Ray Lewis, the Ravens star linebacker who is charged with stabbing two men to death during a fight outside a nightclub, met with the district attorney yesterday in what is described as their first substantive exchange since the player was jailed Monday night.

A source familiar with the meeting between lead defense lawyer Edward T. M. Garland and Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard said each side exchanged information but failed to come to an agreement on whether bail could be set for Lewis.

Though the talks on bail were described as preliminary, a friend and personal attorney of Lewis expressed frustration that they did not lead to his client's release. Ronald M. Cherry, who flew to Atlanta on Wednesday to support the 24-year-old player, returned to Baltimore yesterday.

"I'm extremely disappointed," he said. "I'm going back to Baltimore without him."

Cherry, who had met with Lewis daily since his arrival, described him as coping. "He's still hanging in there. He's still strong. He still has faith," he said.

A bailhearing has been scheduled for Feb. 14. Defense lawyers are hoping to persuade Howard to agree to terms of release that would allow Lewis to get out of jail before that date. A spokesman for Howard refused to comment yesterday.

Cherry said he may return to Atlanta on Monday. Ravens owner Art Modell, his son and team president David Modell, and vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome also might fly to Atlanta next week to meet with Lewis.

Yesterday's meeting between Garland and Howard took place as police and private investigators hired by Lewis searched for witnesses and other suspects in the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Demarus Baker, 21, and Richard Lollar, 24, who were killed in the trendy Buckhead neighborhood hours after the Super Bowl ended seven miles away at the Georgia Dome.

Authorities confirmed that at least two Atlanta homicide detectives were sent to the Baltimore area to question people who might have accompanied Lewis to Atlanta in a rented 40-foot stretch limousine for Super Bowl festivities.

"We are assisting Atlanta police," said Bill Toohey, a spokesman for Baltimore County police.

At Ray Lewis' Owings Mills home, there was no sign of an investigation. The only people arriving yesterday were friends, associates of the Baltimore Ravens and family.

Among the people police want to question is A. J. Johnson, a former football player at the University of Maryland, College Park, who they say was in the limo with Lewis when it sped from the slaying scene in a hail of bullets shortly after 4 a.m.

Johnson has denied being in Atlanta and told The Sun that he watched the Super Bowl at his girlfriend's house in Laurel.

Police also want to question Kwame King, a good friend of Lewis' from his Florida hometown who authorities also believe was in the limo.

Baker and Lollar were stabbed outside the trendy Cobalt Lounge after a star-studded party let out early Monday morning. Bar owners have denied early reports from police that a fight involving Lewis' group began in the upstairs VIP section.

Lawyers for Lewis said the altercation broke out as the player walked from the club to his limo. Eight people were with him or trailing, and the lawyers maintain that Lewis was oblivious to the scuffle or stabbings, even as he jumped into his limo and was whisked away as someone opened fire on the vehicle.

They said yesterday that one person in Lewis' group was hit over the head with a champagne bottle. A woman caller to a radio station said she saw two men being beaten near that bar that morning.

Atlanta police maintain that Lewis knew what was happening and aided the attack.

An affidavit supporting their arrest warrant, made public yesterday, says that Lewis, "along with others, did unlawfully and with malice aforethought cause the death of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar by participating in an assault by punching, beating and stabbing them with a sharp object."

The document, signed by Detective J. A. Fagler and Municipal Court Judge W. F. Riley, says the information comes from "a witness who saw the entire incident. The witness knows Mr. Lewis by name and sight and has known him for over a year."

Lewis' lawyers held a news conference yesterday to rebut the affidavit. Attorney Jana Lauren Harris complained that the two murder charges are based on "the story of one witness."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted police sources in today's editions who said that the witness in the affidavit is the Maryland limo driver, Duanne Fassett. His lawyer declined to comment yesterday.

Fassett's boss has said his driver told police he saw the stabbings and that Lewis was not directly involved. Fassett could not identify the attackers by name.

Lewis' lawyers have carefully worded their statements, saying that their client not only did not stab anyone, but had no knowledge that a fight had broken out involving members of his entourage until after it had concluded.

Yesterday, Harris said the defense team is "disappointed that Mr. Lewis is the only one charged. Obviously, he is not the person who did the stabbing."

Another attorney for Lewis, Donald F. Samuel, denied media reports quoting unnamed police sources saying a conversation about the stabbing took place in the limo as it sped away.

"I don't know who the police have talked to other than the limo driver," Samuel said.

"We have talked to five people who were in the limo, and there has been no mention of any conversation."

Sun staff writers Mike Preston, Nancy A. Youssef and Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this article.

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