Originally created 02/08/00

Lawyer says men in car exonerate Lewis



ATLANTA -- All of the passengers in the limousine that fled the scene of two post-Super Bowl slayings last week say All Pro linebacker Ray Lewis was not involved in the brawl that led to the deaths, Lewis' lawyer said Monday.

Defense lawyer Don Samuel told The Associated Press Monday that he and other defense lawyers and investigators have interviewed all six men, including Lewis.

"We're all hearing one voice -- Ray was not involved in knifing anybody or attacking anybody," Samuel said. "We have not interviewed the driver, but everyone else says Ray wasn't the one."

The Sun in Baltimore reported Monday that limo driver Duane Fassett, 51, told police that Lewis threw at least one punch in the fight that resulted in the two deaths.

The affidavit police used to obtain the arrest warrant against Lewis cited an unnamed witness who said Lewis participated in the "punching, beating, and stabbing" of the two men.

Lewis, middle linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, is in the Atlanta Detention Center on murder charges stemming from the deaths of Jacinth "Shorty" Baker, 21, and Richard Lollar, 24, both of Decatur.

Samuel said interviews have not shed light on who actually stabbed the two men. He would not release the names of the other limo passengers.

Atlanta police have said they were looking to interview two men thought to have been in the limo -- former University of Maryland football player A.J. Johnson and Kwame King, a friend of Lewis.

Johnson, who says he was at home in Laurel, Md., over Super Bowl weekend, said Sunday that Atlanta investigators had interviewed him.

Samuel said the defense team has interviewed more than 30 people, and accounts as to what happen vary wildly.

"We've heard everything from it was a war zone and there was fighting everywhere to that there were four total involved, including the two victims," Samuel said.

Atlanta and Baltimore County police also searched Lewis' home in suburban Baltimore early Monday.

Atlanta police spokesman John Quigley confirmed a search warrant was executed, but would not say what police were looking for or what was confiscated. Officers could be seen carrying large plastic containers from the home and loading a computer into a van.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for the Fassett, the limo driver, said his client should not be seen as "a star witness against Ray Lewis."

"He's told police what he saw. And he's told police what he didn't see," David Irwin said.

Irwin would not comment on what Fassett has told police. But he said Fassett has periodically driven for Lewis over the past year and is "friendly" with the 24-year-old All-Pro.

"He's very distraught about the trouble that has befallen Ray," Irwin said.

Irwin would not comment on previous reports that knives and blood were found in the limo.

Samuel said Fassett may have seen Lewis trying to break up the fight.

"We don't know what his vantage point was or what he actually saw," Samuel said.

He also said that the fact that someone shot at the fleeing limo and that bullet holes were evident in the vehicle means someone other than the victims may have been involved in the fight.

Samuel said that prosecutors have not approached Lewis with the possibility of lesser charges if Lewis names the actual killer.

"Our conversations haven't gotten there yet," Samuel said. "They can find that out without needing Ray's help. Everybody who was there will figure out who else was in car sooner or later, and from there, it's not going to be any great mystery."