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Prosecutors Introduce Lewis Statement

June 1, 2000

ATLANTA (AP) _ Police officers testified Thursday that football star Ray Lewis gave them a statement full of lies and contradictions when they interviewed him hours after a brawl that left two men dead.

The statement shows Lewis denied knowing many of the people who rode in his rented limousine and gave inconsistent accounts of whether anyone in his party was cut during the fight.

Lewis and two friends, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, are on trial for murder in the deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar, who were stabbed in the Jan. 31 fight after a Super Bowl party.

Before the trial began, Lewis’ lawyers tried to keep his statement out of evidence. But Superior Court Judge Alice D. Bonner ordered that it be admitted because she said it was ``freely and voluntarily given.″

Lewis, who was at a friend’s house in Norcross on the morning after the killing, refused to go to the police station but agreed to give a written statement to Atlanta police Lt. M.C. Smith.

``On my way to my limousine ... a fight broke out way up past my limousine,″ Lewis’ statement said. ``We saw it, I grabbed my people, we hopped in my truck, we left. While we’re driving off, we heard gun shots. We left the scene, and that is basically it.″

Lewis at first denied knowing the names of the people in the limousine, calling them ``just club people.″ But later in the statement he identified a woman named Jaye and someone named A.J. Johnson, an alias used by Oakley.

He also denied knowing about someone’s head being cut, but later told Smith that A.J. Johnson ``had his head busted.″ Earlier testimony showed that Oakley’s head was cut with a champagne bottle during the brawl.

Lewis refused to sign the statement and told officers he had to leave to catch a flight to Hawaii, where he was playing in the Pro Bowl. The Baltimore Ravens linebacker promised to answer more questions when he returned.

``Do you understand that two people died last night and you can help identify the suspects?″ Smith asked Lewis.

``Yes,″ he answered.

Defense attorneys had argued that officers coerced the statement by threatening to destroy Lewis’ pro football career if he didn’t cooperate. Ed Garland, Lewis’ attorney, suggested Thursday that the three-page statement was incomplete.

Lawyers for Sweeting and Oakley once again asked for a separate trial, arguing that Lewis’ statement could be used against their clients. The judge denied the motion, but instructed the jury that the statement can only be used against Lewis.

The officers took the stand on the seventh day of testimony. The prosecution said it still hopes to finish its case by Friday.

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