Lewis not part of scuffles, key witness tells authorities

Security guard has no ties to suspects or victims

April 13, 2000|By COX NEWS SERVICE

ATLANTA -- Keven Brown walked out of the Cobalt Lounge on Super Bowl night apparently minding his own business.

Within minutes, he was pulling an attacker off a dying victim and scattering people from a fracas on a Buckhead street. Now he is a key figure in the slaying case against Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and may even be the best witness for the NFL star's defense.

Brown, a burly security guard from Decatur, Ga., has been a reluctant witness, refusing all requests for interviews by the news media. But he has given authorities a chilling account of the fleeting moments of a fight on Jan. 31 that left two Decatur men stabbed to death.

In those statements, Brown tells authorities he saw two men attacking Jacinth Baker and two more fighting with Richard Lollar seconds before they lay bleeding on the street. But he told police Lewis was not part of those scuffles.

Brown is one of only a few witnesses with no ties to either party. And of those witnesses, he apparently saw the most.

Because of this, he could be a valuable witness to the Lewis defense team. But because he didn't see the beginning of the altercation, he can't totally exonerate him.

When Brown arrived at the scene, what he saw was chaos. "Punches were being thrown, bottles swung," Brown said. "It was an all-out brawl."

Brown, 34, said he could identify Lewis, having seen him when he worked security for Atlanta Falcons players.

Moments before he drove up on the fight, Brown encountered a "very intoxicated" Lewis staggering out of the Cobalt with his arms around two women helping him walk down the street. "He could barely talk or walk," Brown said.

Lewis assured Brown he was OK, adding that he was "leaving in the morning on the first thing smoking," referring to a scheduled flight to Hawaii where the linebacker was set to play in the Pro Bowl the following Sunday.

Lewis is charged with Reginald Oakley of Baltimore and Joseph Sweeting of Miami in the stabbing deaths of Baker and Lollar. They are scheduled to go to trial May 15.

Although Brown did not see Lewis involved in the deadly fights, two other witnesses have told police that they saw Lewis participate. Duane Fassett, the driver of Lewis' stretch limousine, told police he saw Lewis "throw a punch." And Jeff Gwen of Akron, Ohio, a friend of the victims', told authorities he saw Lewis fighting with one of the victims.

No witness has said Lewis held a knife. But under Georgia law, a person can be convicted of felony murder if he is found to have committed a felony that led to the victim's death. Lewis has been charged with aggravated assault.

On the night of the slaying, Brown spent four to five hours inside the Cobalt. After leaving the club, Brown drove his Honda eastbound down East Paces Ferry, screeching to a halt because a man being beaten by two others ran out in front of him.

The closest victim to him, Brown said, was a "little guy" (Baker) being beaten by a man wearing a black fur jacket and being kicked by another man. "He wasn't putting up very much of a fight," Brown recalled.

Brown said he yelled at the men to stop fighting and then jumped into the fray.

"As I got closer to the fight, I grabbed one of the guys and shoved him aside," he said. "I don't remember what that guy had on and the only reason I remember the fur jacket is because I grabbed him," Brown said. "The other guys stopped and started to run away."

Within seconds after breaking up the fight, Brown stood over Baker, who lay dying of stab wounds. Brown then looked up and saw a mortally wounded Lollar stagger over to Baker and then tumble backward to the pavement.

He said he saw a knife on the ground and heard an unidentified person say, "I stabbed him." Brown stayed at the scene, dialing 911.

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