Lewis returns to Md., not freedom

Public, press avid

authorities to enforce curfew, test for drugs

February 17, 2000|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

After returning to Maryland, linebacker Ray Lewis is expected to make a public statement today before beginning a life of court-ordered curfews and weekly drug and alcohol tests.

Lewis was released Tuesday from an Atlanta jail where he had been held on murder charges since Jan. 31.

In granting his release on $1 million bail, a judge gave Lewis a daily 9 p.m. curfew as well as other restrictions that will be enforced here by a Maryland agency.

The 24-year-old football player is scheduled to appear at the Ravens complex in Owings Mills for a 3 p.m. news conference during which he will probably read a statement, said a Ravens spokesman.

"But it has to be done within the parameters of what the court will allow," said Kevin Byrne.

Parties to the case are subject to a wide-ranging gag order imposed Monday by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Doris L. Downs. A permanent judge, Alice D. Bonner, was assigned the case yesterday but took no action, leaving Downs' order in effect.

Under its terms, Lewis might not be able to speak publicly today about anything related to his defense, even to profess his innocence or the innocence of others in the case.

Lewis was indicted Friday along with two acquaintances on murder and assault charges stemming from the Jan. 31 deaths of two men outside an Atlanta nightclub after the Super Bowl.

Gag orders are relatively common in high-profile cases. Lewis' lawyers have had numerous news conferences and have repeatedly blasted police and prosecutors and shared evidence with the media.

Police and prosecutors, though quiet during the week after they charged Lewis with two counts of murder, went on the offensive and publicly branded Lewis a liar, discussed evidence they were planning to use against him and said he had not cooperated during interviews.

Further such exchanges are prohibited under the gag order.

"In the present case, it is apparent that there has been intense press coverage surrounding this action," Downs wrote, adding: "This court determines that there is a reasonable likelihood that the defendant's right to a fair trial will be prejudiced by this publicity."

In freeing Lewis on bail, Downs also imposed restrictions on the player that will subject him to curfew checks, unannounced visits by authorities and weekly drug and alcohol tests while he awaits trial at home.

"He will be meeting with us when he returns to Maryland to go over the plan," LaMont W. Flanagan, commissioner of pretrial detention and services for Maryland, said yesterday. The agency will be responsible for monitoring Lewis while he is in Maryland to make sure the player abides by the restrictions.

Get home by 9

Specifically, he must be home at 9 p.m., can't travel outside Maryland except to attend to trial matters in Georgia, must avoid alcohol and illicit drugs, has to surrender his passport, and cannot have any contact with witnesses in the case.

Kenya Reid, public information officer for the Fulton County Superior Court, declined to provide details of Georgia's supervision plans but said pretrial officers are working closely with Maryland authorities.

The Maryland pretrial services division oversees about 2,000 defendants. Lewis will not be the first high-profile one: The office supervised boxer Mike Tyson, who was arrested on charges of attacking two motorists in Gaithersburg after a traffic accident in 1998.

Lewis will be assigned a case manager, with whom he must meet weekly. Lewis will also have to submit to drug and alcohol screening at the agency's Baltimore office, which has a lab.

The court order did not specify any particular drugs for testing and Lewis -- who has no known record of drug abuse -- will be screened for a variety of common narcotics, Flanagan said.

To ensure that Lewis is still in the state, the case manager will have the right to conduct random checks of Lewis' home in Baltimore County.

"This gives the case manager the opportunity to see how he's adjusting to supervision," Flanagan said.

Other law enforcement officers may conduct the checks as well, he said.

"We will employ all the options available to us. I don't want to publicize them all," Flanagan said.

When Lewis travels to Georgia, Flanagan said, his officers will call their counterparts in Atlanta to be sure the defendant arrives as scheduled. "We're in constant contact with the pretrial services people in Georgia," he said.

Flanagan's office will also take possession of Lewis' passport, if he has one.

Charges of another assault

Still pending against Lewis are assault charges from Baltimore County, where a woman said Lewis struck her in the face with his fist outside the Windsor Mill lounge.

The alleged incident occurred in late November.

Deputy State's Attorney Howard Merker said the case was postponed until June 1 and prosecutors would be evaluating witness statements and questioning the victim.

She described Lewis in her complaint as being 5 feet 5 and 160 pounds -- in fact, he is 6 feet 1 and 240 pounds.

Merker said he has received "a number" of statements that show Lewis was not involved in the altercation.

Sun staff writers Peter Hermann, Ken Rosenthal and Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this article.

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