Baltimore fugitive is set to surrender

Lewis acquaintance reportedly consulting with lawyer in Atlanta

February 13, 2000|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- A Baltimore man who has been charged with Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis in the stabbing deaths of two men was reportedly in Atlanta last night preparing to surrender to police.

A lawyer in Maryland who has been advising Reginald Oakley, 31, said he was told that the fugitive has been consulting with an Atlanta lawyer after arriving in town Friday evening.

But as of last night, Oakley had not come forward, and police said they had made no provisions for a surrender. Authorities continued their nationwide search yesterday for Oakley and a third suspect, Joseph L. Sweeting, 34, of Miami.

Channel 11 reported in Baltimore last night that Sweeting, too, was in Atlanta, but his presence could not be confirmed.

Reporters were camped out last night at Atlanta police headquarters as they waited for Oakley to arrive and meet with homicide investigators.

Columbia attorney Jesse Ingram said he has urged Oakley to "do the right thing" because he is innocent of wrongdoing. "He has absolutely nothing to hide," Ingram said, "and everything to gain by cooperating.

Oakley, Sweeting and Lewis -- who was arrested Jan. 31 about the timehe was to leave for the Pro Bowl in Hawaii -- were indicted Friday.

A bail hearing for Lewis is scheduled for tomorrow.

Police have said the three men were involved in a fight with Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker outside the Cobalt Lounge after a star-studded Super Bowl party. Lollar, 24, and Baker, 21, were fatally stabbed in the altercation.

While Lewis has not been accused of using a weapon, Atlanta police say that the star football player was an active participant in the fight and that he and the other suspects fled in Lewis' rented limousine. Police also contend that Lewis lied to them.

Lewis' lawyers have vehemently denied the charges and have described their client as a peacemaker who tried to break up the fight. They said he had no idea anyone had been stabbed until hours later.

Lead defense attorney Edward T. M. Garland did not return calls yesterday from The Sun.

Garland has said that people in Lewis' group were taunted as they left the nightclub about 4 a.m. and that Oakley broke away from the entourage to confront Lollar and Baker. He said Lewis eventually got everyone into his limousine except Sweeting.

He said the argument continued at the limo, with everyone piling out. Oakley was then hit over the head with a champagne bottle, and the melee moved down the street, he said.

Garland has told reporters repeatedly that Lewis was about 100 feet from where the stabbings occurred. He has maintained that even though the assailants got back into the limousine with Lewis as it sped away, the player did not know anyone had been killed or seriously injured until much later.

The lawyers have also said that Lewis tried to cooperate with police but was arrested instead.

Police said Lewis told detectives that a man named A. J. Johnson was in the limousine. They assumed it was an acquaintance of Lewis' who lives in Laurel.

Police have since learned that Oakley's nickname is "A. J." They used that detail to launch a counterattack Thursday in which the district attorney and deputy police chief branded Lewis a liar who obstructed their investigation.

Ingram said yesterday that Oakley was with Lewis in the limousine as it sped from the nightclub "but did not participate in a double homicide."

Oakley has a criminal record that includes convictions for assault on a police officer, escape and resisting arrest.

Pub Date: 2/13/00

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