Report says group of 10 jumped victims

Medical probe reveals additional evidence in Atlanta double murder

March 02, 2000|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

Witnesses to the double slayings in Atlanta after the Super Bowl told investigators that as many as 10 people jumped, then stabbed and shot at the victims, according to a medical examiner's report made public this week.

Police have alleged that Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, 24, and two co-defendants, Joseph Sweeting, 34, and Reginald Oakley, 31, took part in the fight that resulted in the deaths. The three have been charged with assault and murder. They have all pleaded not guilty. Lewis' attorneys say he was trying to break up the fight.

Among the details revealed by the newly released report: One victim's fingers were tested for evidence that might implicate his assailant; bags of suspected marijuana were found in the pockets of the other victim, raising the possibility of a drug connection to the crime; one of the fatal wounds was consistent with a serrated-edged knife such as the one police have linked to Lewis or his associates through a sales receipt found in his hotel room.

A brief description of the Jan. 31, early-morning fracas by an investigator with the Fulton County Medical Examiner's office said the victims, Jacinth Baker, 21, and Richard Lollar, 24, were involved in a fight inside the Cobalt Lounge, an upscale Atlanta nightclub.

After leaving the bar, they encountered 10 men on a nearby sidewalk. "According to witnesses, they were followed, the men jumped them and stabbed and shot at" them, the investigator wrote in a report that accompanied the autopsy reports.

The documents were released Tuesday to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in response to a request by the paper's lawyer.

It is the first suggestion that a gun may have been used by an assailant. Previously, an attorney for one of Lewis' co-defendants alleged that one of the victims brought a gun to the scene. A gun was found nearby but it has not yet been linked to the crime, sources said.

The document also suggests additional evidence has been collected that could implicate one or more of the men in the fight.

Hair, possibly from an assailant, was collected from Lollar's fingers and sent to the Georgia crime lab for analysis, assistant medical examiner John B. Parker said yesterday in an interview with The Sun. Results are not yet available.

Because the medical examiner's office was not called to the scene immediately, the witness accounts were probably relayed by detectives, said Parker, who performed the autopsies on both victims.

Police have not specified who they believe wielded the weapon, but have said three knives -- at least one of which has been linked to the crime -- were found in the limousine Lewis and his party used that night.

A receipt for the purchase of knives from the Sports Authority store in Duluth, Ga., was found in Lewis' Atlanta hotel room, with his home phone number scrawled on the back.

Lewis signed autographs at the store two days before the killings. A store employee told an investigator working for Lewis' defense team that the player was accompanied by two men to the promotional event. The men purchased at least two knives, a serrated Gerber Chameleon and a Lite Knife, according to the statement, which was obtained by The Sun.

A police officer testified at Lewis' bail hearing that the men buying the knives were believed to be Sweeting and Oakley. Police allege that Lewis was aware of the purchase, but a defense witness said Lewis was signing autographs when the knives were bought.

Baker and Lollar each suffered puncture wounds of 3 to 4 inches in depth consistent with a knife, the report said. Both men were stabbed repeatedly, including jabs that punctured their hearts. Lollar's injuries bore evidence of being created by a serrated-edged knife.

"Physical characteristics of the various wounds suggested the wounds are made with a single sharp-edged cutting instrument such as a knife with focal serrated cutting edges," the autopsy concludes.

The Chameleon knife identified by its inventory number in the statement by the Sports Authority employee has a blade serrated at the bottom but smooth at the top.

Baker's wounds showed no evidence of being made by a serrated blade, suggesting a second weapon was used or that the same knife was used but at a different angle.

Lollar died at the scene; Baker after being taken to a hospital.

"Compared to what we see in street fights, these gentlemen received few stab wounds, but the wounds were directed to vital structures," Parker said.

There was no evidence found on either victim to suggest they had fired guns. An attorney for Sweeting alleged in a court filing last week that Lollar is believed to have brought a gun to the scene, which was taken by an associate and used to shoot at the limo. Shell casings were discovered near the bodies and bullets were found in the limo.

Parker said neither Lollar not Baker had any chemical traces on their hands indicating they had recently fired a weapon. But modern guns do not necessarily leave such traces, Parker said.

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