Robbery of Lewis group alleged

Woman with Raven to say victims plotted to hold up entourage

March 04, 2000|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

A woman who was with Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis when two men died in a fight outside an Atlanta nightclub has struck a deal with prosecutors and is expected to tell them today that the killings resulted from a botched robbery.

The woman, Jessica Robertson, agreed yesterday to tell investigators -- and, if necessary, a jury -- what she saw in return for being spared prosecution for any charges that might arise against her in the case, said her attorney, Akil K. Secret of Atlanta.

The deal was signed by the judge last night, he said.

"She's willing to cooperate fully. The only stipulation is that she tell the truth, which is what she intends to do," Secret said.

Robertson, also known as Jaye Roberts, has spoken to Lewis' defense team but not to police about what she saw in the early morning hours of Jan. 31 when Jacinth Baker, 21, and Richard Lollar, 24, both of Decatur, Ga., died of stab wounds to the heart.

Lewis has been indicted on charges of murder and assault in the deaths, along with two acquaintances: Reginald Oakley, 31, of Baltimore, and Joseph L. Sweeting, 34, of Miami.

Secret said Robertson plans to give investigators this account: Members of the Lewis party had split up on the sidewalk after celebrating the Super Bowl at the Cobalt Lounge. Robertson, Lewis, his co-defendants and others began walking toward Lewis' rented 37-foot limousine, parked down the street from the club. Several members of the party headed elsewhere on their own.

A group of five or six men, including the victims, came along and targeted the separated members of Lewis' party and planned to rob them. Their plans were overheard by members of Lewis' group, which included Robertson, and some of them rushed from the vehicle to alert their friends.

Angry words were exchanged between the groups, a fight broke out and the two men were stabbed. Robertson did not see Lewis throw any punches, nor did she see the men actually get stabbed.

"It was a melee," Secret said. "She saw Ray Lewis at all times during the incident."

After the fight, Lewis and his party piled back into the limo. As it pulled away from the curb, a man whom Robertson believes was with Lollar and Baker's group fired several shots at the vehicle, striking it several times, Secret said.

Police allege that Lewis actively participated in the fight that led to the deaths, making him culpable under Georgia law for murder. The limo driver has told investigators he saw Lewis throw a punch during the melee.

Robertson is scheduled to be interviewed by investigators at 9 a.m. today.

In other developments, the Atlanta Police Department confirmed a report in yesterday's Atlanta Journal Constitution that an internal investigation is under way of allegedly racist remarks made to potential witnesses by the officer who arrested Lewis.

"It is indeed true that we are investigating the officer for allegedly making some statements," Atlanta Police Maj. Calvin Moss said yesterday. "It would be inappropriate to comment further because that process is under way."

Lt. Mike Smith, head of the homicide unit, was interviewing Tony Williams, a black man who had come forward with information about the purchase of some knives by associates of Lewis' two days before the killings.

The would-be witness had been at a sporting goods store in suburban Atlanta when Lewis was there for a scheduled autograph-signing session.

Williams told Smith that he could identify Lewis by name but knew only the nickname of one of Lewis' companions.

During the interview, Smith, who is white, asked Williams what his nickname was. When Williams said he didn't have a nickname, Smith allegedly replied, "Come on, you know all you African-Americans have a nickname for each other."

Williams was offended and walked out on the interview. He had come to the police to tell them that he saw Lewis' companions -- but not Lewis -- purchase one or more knives, a source familiar with Williams' account said yesterday.

Williams was accompanied by another witness, who is black, who also refused to continue the interview, according to the Journal Constitution.

Police found in Lewis' hotel room in Atlanta a receipt for knives that the police say may have been used in the crime. A witness who spoke to Lewis' defense team said that the purchases were made by the player's associates, who were present at the store during the autograph session.

Lewis' co-defendants, Sweeting and Oakley, have pleaded not guilty, opting to file their pleas in in the court record and waive appearing in person for arraignment.

However, a source said yesterday that Lewis' defense team intends to have the player appear in Atlanta next Friday to attend his arraignment.

Such proceedings tend to last only a few minutes, but defense attorneys sometimes find value in having their client appear in person and look the judge in the eye when asserting a plea of not guilty.

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