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Two Friends of Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis Found Not Guilty in the Superbowl Murder Trial
By Chris Gordon, Chief Correspondent
Monday, June 12, 2000; Page 10.1
Ray Lewis was on the Ravens practice field having had murder charges against him dropped a week earlier as part of a plea bargain agreement. He testified against this friends, and is on 12 months probation. Lewis expressed anger against prosecutors saying of his experience being on trial for murder that in his life whenever he was faced with fourth down and one yard to go he knew what to do. But facing fourth and life was a different story. Lewis thinks that any opponent who would use his encounter with the law in trash talk on the field would be heartless because two people are dead.
Lewis sat with his friends at the defense table for the first two weeks of this trial, until he was given a plea bargain and admitted that he was guilty of lying to police. Lewis then became the State's "star witnesss" testifying that his two friends and former co-defendants Joseph Sweeting and Reginald Oakley had gotten knives from a Sports Authority during Lewis' autograph signing session before the Superbowl in Atlanta. When they showed Lewis, he asked them what they were doing with those knives, "I don't want to see those."
Lewis testified that he entered a guilty plea to a charge of obstructing justice. He admitted he lied to police and made a false statement in the hours after the fatal fight. Defense lawyers for his former co-defendants got the judge to instruct the jury that they could infer nothing against them from Lewis' guilty plea.
Lewis described a brawl with punches being thrown everywhere. He said he didn't want to get invoved because it would jeopardize his NFL career. "I tried to stop this fight", he said.
Lewis said at a hotel afterwards he asked Sweeting what happened. Lewis demonstrated how Sweeting allegedly held a knife with its blade protruding from his fist and said, "Everytime they hit me, I hit them".
Lewis testified that he noticed Oakley was injured, his "head was busted". According to Lewis when he asked Oakley what happened, Oakley said,"Nothing. I was just beating him." Lewis replied, "You was all trippin'".
Detective Ken Allen displayed a small knife found at the crime scene and seven .45 caliber shell casings he said were found near the victims. But forensic experts were unable to recover usable prints or blood from the knife. On cross examination one defense attorney asked, "There wasn't a hint, a speck, a scintilla of blood on that knife, was there?" Allen answered that there was no blood, DNA tests proved negative and there were no fingerprints on it.
Marlin Burros, a friend of one of the victim's testified that he fired several shots at Lewis' limosine as it left the scene of the killings. Burros said he ran from the victims and got the gun out of his car. But because the shell casings were found so close to their bodies, the defense is expected to suggest that Burros took the gun from one of the victims who was armed at the time of the fatal fight.
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