Blood in limo that of victim

DNA tests on traces near Lewis' seat show Baker match

April 26, 2000|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

Traces of blood matching that of one of the men whom Ray Lewis is accused of assaulting and murdering were found in the rented limousine the football player used on the morning of the killings, according to sources.

Police laboratory tests recently turned over by prosecutors to attorneys for Lewis and his two co-defendants say that blood matching Jacinth Baker's was found in the limousine. Some of it was found in the area near where Lewis was sitting, according to sources familiar with the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Attorneys for Lewis, an All-Pro linebacker for the Ravens, declined to comment, citing a gag order imposed by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Alice D. Bonner.

Prosecutors had alleged soon after the murders in an upscale Atlanta nightclub district that some of the 11 limo passengers returned to the vehicle "dripping with blood" from the altercation. Lewis was sitting in the rear of the limo, near the primary passenger door that he and other occupants used. That suggests that others had passed by the player's seat and could have been responsible for blood being in the vicinity.

Prosecutors are making arrangements for the 37-foot Lincoln Navigator limo to be transported to Atlanta for jurors to inspect during the trial next month.

Lewis has been charged with two counts each of assault and murder in the stabbing deaths of Baker, 21, and Richard Lollar, 24, both of Decatur, Ga. The men were found with wounds to the heart about 4 a.m. on Jan. 31, a few blocks down the street from a club in which Lewis' group had celebrated the Super Bowl that had been played in Atlanta the night before.

Charged with Lewis are two members of his group, Reginald Oakley, 31, of Baltimore, and Joseph Sweeting, 34, of Miami. Fulton County prosecutors allege that a fight broke out between the Decatur men and members of Lewis' party, and that Lewis was an active participant. His attorneys say he was a "horrified bystander" trying to separate the factions and herd his group into the limo. Sweeting's attorney has hinted in court motions that he may argue self-defense. All three men have pleaded not guilty.

DNA tests taken from blood found in the limo match samples taken from Baker, Sweeting and Oakley. No blood matching Lollar's was recovered.

Witnesses have said that Baker smashed a champagne bottle over Oakley's head. Sweeting suffered a cut to his finger, allegedly during the fight, according to court documents.

The judge certified yesterday as a material witness a Miami woman whom the prosecution wants to testify. The woman, Leilani Rosario, saw a fresh, bleeding cut on Sweeting's finger immediately after the murders, prosecutors said in court documents.

Lewis' group fled the scene of the killings as shots were fired at the limo and drove to a nearby Holiday Inn. The Baltimore-based limousine driver has told police that the group went inside the hotel to get cleaned up and left by cabs as the driver changed a tire flattened by a bullet.

Blood matching samples taken from Baker, Sweeting and Oakley was also found in the Holiday Inn, one source said.

Prosecutors have asked the judge for permission to escort the jury to the scene of the killings at 4 a.m. during the trial, so they can see what witnesses saw under similar circumstances. Prosecutors also want the jurors to see the limo.

The limo will likely be transported to Atlanta for the trial, said David Irwin, attorney for All-Stretched Out Limousine Service. "We are cooperating with them as much as is practical," Irwin said.

In other court action over the past week, Bonner also certified as material witnesses two Baltimore residents: Garfield Yuillie, a friend of Oakley and Lewis whom prosecutors want to testify about the two co-defendants' friendship; and Jane King, an employee of Allfirst Bank and custodian of financial records the prosecutors want to submit as evidence.

Prosecutors also notified defense attorneys that physical evidence collected in the case would be made available for inspection by them on Thursday.

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