Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was charged with first-degree murder
last night in the stabbing deaths of two men outside an Atlanta nightclub in
the early morning after a night of Super Bowl parties.
In arresting Lewis, Atlanta police said he was suspected of being one of
several men who fled the scene of the killings in a limousine.
Earlier yesterday, Lewis told The Sun that he had been cleared by Atlanta
police to leave the city, and he had been expected to fly to Hawaii this
morning for the Pro Bowl game Sunday.
Ravens head coach Brian Billick said the team would issue no statement
until after Lewis, 24, appears in Atlanta Municipal Court, which he was
expected to do at 8 a.m. today.
Lewis' attorney, Carey Deeley, declined to comment last night.
"He is in our custody," said Atlanta police spokesman John Quigley.
The two men were stabbed to death in Atlanta's Buckhead entertainment
district. Witnesses said six men who had fought with them left the scene in a
black Lincoln Navigator limousine leased by Lewis and that several shots were
fired from inside the vehicle.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that several detectives and
policemen had placed Lewis inside the vehicle as it sped away from the crime
scene. Atlanta police said the limousine had Maryland license plates and was
leased from All-Stretched Out Limousine Service, a Baltimore company. The
owner of the company was unavailable for comment last night.
Lewis was the only person who had been charged in the slayings by late last
night, police said.
The victims were identified by the Atlanta medical examiner's office as
Richard Lollar, 24, and Jacinta Baker, 21, both of Decatur, Ga. Both were
believed to have been partying in the area. Baker was pronounced dead at the
scene shortly after the 4 a.m. fight, and Lollar died later at Grady Memorial
According to a published report, detectives found the stretch limousine
behind a Holiday Inn on Peachtree Road near Lenox Mall. Homicide detectives
spent most of the day talking to the driver but would not provide details.
Police were called to the hotel after someone told them that a man with
bloodstains on his clothing had gotten out of the limousine and entered a
bathroom in the hotel lobby to wash, officers said.
Earlier in the day, Lewis had little to say about the incident.
"I cooperated fully," Lewis told The Sun. "As for the situation, I have no
Lewis and his agent, Roosevelt Barnes, had said that the former University
of Miami standout was not a suspect. "He is not involved in any aspect of this
investigation as far as I know," Barnes told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Ravens owner Art Modell had said earlier in the day, "I don't believe he
had anything to do with it. I'm going to give Ray the benefit of the doubt and
defend him until some thing is proven otherwise."
Police believe the argument began at the Cobalt Lounge, the scene of a
fatal shooting two weeks ago that left a Marietta, Ga., man dead.
Lewis had become the team's
most popular player on and off the field. But privately, team officials and
teammates had become concerned about new friends he had made.
On Dec. 6, assault charges were filed against Lewis stemming from an
incident in a Baltimore County bar.
According to a police report, Catrice Parker, 24, of Baltimore claimed
Lewis struck her on the left side of her face and she fell into the bar at the
Windsor Mill Inn in the 7200 block of Windsor Mill Road. Lewis was expected to
stand trial Feb. 9 in Catonsivlle.
Ravens officials had been expected to meet with Lewis and his friends as
soon as he returned from the Pro Bowl.
"The devil is busy, always after God's children. He is always trying to get
you one way or another," said Lewis when asked about the incidents.
Asked whether he was concerned about his friends and his relationship with
the Ravens, Lewis said, "It is something I will discuss with them but not
something I can talk about now."
Lewis, 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds, is considered by many to be the best middle
linebacker in pro football. He has led the Ravens in tackles since joining the
team as a first-round draft pick in 1996. He finished with 198 last year,
which may have been his best season with the team.
On Nov. 19, 1998, Modell made Lewis the highest-paid Raven and the
highest-paid linebacker with a four-year contract worth $26 million, including
a $7 million signing bonus.