Prosecutors in the Ray Lewis case have offered immunity to a woman who was with him at the scene of the double murder in Atlanta, seeking her cooperation even though she has said he did not kill anyone.
In another development in the case against the Ravens linebacker, an attorney for one of Lewis' co-defendants yesterday filed a motion suggesting that the victims may have been high on drugs and were aggressors in the fight that led to their stabbing deaths Jan. 31.
Lewis has been indicted on charges of murder and assault in the deaths of Jacinth Baker, 21, and Richard Lollar, 24, both of Decatur, Ga. Two acquaintances of Lewis also have been indicted: Reginald Oakley, 31, of Baltimore, and Joseph L. Sweeting, 34, of Miami.
A woman who was with the three co-defendants at the time of the crime has given statements to Lewis' defense team but has not spoken to police. Jessica Robertson told Lewis' attorneys that Lewis was trying to pull his friends away from the early morning fight outside an Atlanta nightclub after the Super Bowl.
"We have not sealed the deal but we are negotiating. We are having talks with them," said a source familiar with Robertson's discussions with prosecutors.
Under the deal, she would be spared prosecution on charges that she might face, such as aiding and abetting a felony or obstruction of justice, in exchange for telling investigators what she saw that night and morning.
Robertson, who also goes by the name Jaye Roberts, has signed an affidavit saying a group of six men followed Lewis and his entourage as they walked down the street. Robertson said she believes the men wanted to rob Lewis and others in his group.
"Ray Lewis was motioning and telling everyone to get into the limousine so that we could avoid a confrontation," she said in one of two statements she provided to Lewis' attorneys, which were obtained by The Sun.
As the limo pulled away, a man on the street fired a gun, hitting the vehicle several times, she said.
Under Georgia law, a defendant can be found guilty of murder even if he doesn't do the killing. It is enough, for example, for someone to participate in a beating while an associate kills the victim.
Robertson said in her statements that she never saw Lewis throw a punch.
However, that is contradicted by Duane Fassett, the man who drove the Baltimore-based limousine for Lewis and his party.
"I saw him throw one punch," Fassett told investigators, according to excerpts of the transcript published this week in Creative Loafing, an alternative-news weekly published in Atlanta.
"Then all of the sudden, everyone came back to the truck. Ray Lewis was last. He jumped in and said, `Let's get the hell out of here,' " Fassett told the police.
Earlier on the weekend, he saw one of Lewis' companions, known as "Shorty," dispose of three cardboard boxes that had contained three knives the companion had bought.
Prosecutors have said they found three knives in the limousine, at least one of which they believe was a murder weapon. The receipt for the knives, allegedly bought by Sweeting or Oakley, was found in Lewis' hotel room.
Steven H. Sadow of Atlanta, an attorney for Sweeting, filed a motion yesterday in Fulton County Superior Court asking for the results of drug tests performed on the bodies of Lollar and Baker.
"The defendant believes this information is material because it will tend to show that one or both of the decedents were aggressors," the motion said.
Bags of a substance believed to be marijuana were found in Baker's pockets after his death. Both Baker and Lollar had been convicted of drug offenses.
Last week, Sadow filed a motion in which he suggested Lollar had brought a gun to the scene of the crime and it was taken from him by an associate and used to shoot at the limousine.
Attorneys for Lewis yesterday filed a motion in court saying they are invoking their right under Georgia law to a reciprocal exchange of all evidence with prosecutors. Had Lewis not made that motion, he would not have to share with prosecutors and they would only have to show him evidence that would contribute to his defense.