Lewis is set to appear today for arraignment

Raven's story supported by published account of acquaintance testimony

March 10, 2000|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was scheduled today to make his first public appearance in nearly a month as he formally declares his innocence before a judge who will oversee his trial on charges of murder and assault.

His two co-defendants in the case -- a double homicide in the early morning after the Super Bowl -- opted to skip the arraignment and file their not-guilty pleas in written motions. Both remain in jail here.

Lewis' attorneys, however, chose to have their client appear in person before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Alice Bonner, who will try the case in May.

"It's the moment at which he declares his innocence. It's a part of the normal process," Lewis' attorney, Edward T. M. Garland, said yesterday.

Lewis was scheduled to arrive in Atlanta yesterday and fly home to Baltimore today after his arraignment, which is set for 11 a.m.

Lewis is charged with assault and murder in the stabbing deaths of two men Jan. 31 outside an Atlanta nightclub during a street brawl. Police allege that he was an active participant in the fight and stabbings along with co-defendants Reginald Oakley, 31, of Baltimore, and Joseph Sweeting, 34, of Miami. They fled the scene with Lewis and others in his limousine as shots were fired at it.

Lewis' attorneys say he was merely trying to break up the fight between members of his group and a group that included the victims, Jacinth Baker, 21, and Richard Lollar, 24, of Decatur, Ga., and that he only learned of their deaths later.

That account was supported in a published account yesterday of testimony given by Jessica Robertson, a Lewis acquaintance who last week was granted immunity from prosecution.

Her attorney, Akil Secret, recounted that Robertson was with Lewis and his companions in his hotel room when a TV broadcast said two men were dead near a Buckhead nightclub. The initial report was that it was a shooting.

"They were relieved -- it wasn't them," said Secret. But then the broadcast mentioned a stabbing.

According to Robertson, Lewis turned to one of the co-defendants and asked, "You didn't stab anyone, did you?"

Robertson on Saturday turned over to investigators nine garment bags, a carry-on bag, a plaque and a sweat shirt belonging to Lewis. Two of the garment bags contained fur coats. It is now believed that Lewis had worn a dark-colored mink and a dark gray suit that night. Authorities are expected to test the clothing for bloodstains.

Secret said Lewis' original plan was to have the driver of his limousine bring his cache of clothes back to Maryland.

"He never intended to take them to Hawaii" where Lewis was to play the week after in the Pro Bowl, Secret said. Lewis did not go to Hawaii because he was arrested and held until his release on bail Jan. 15.

Secret said that after the limo was incapacitated by the gunshots, Lewis called Robertson on her cell phone as she was driving away from the hotel. "She got a call, it was Ray asking her if she didn't mind taking his clothes until he got back," Secret said.

"She has a very good reason why she chose, on her own, to put those clothes in the storage bin," Secret said, declining to elaborate. "Ray Lewis had nothing to do with her decision to do that. Nothing at all."

Cox Newspapers contributed to this article.

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