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Letter to the Editor

Bad choice

Showing the late Art Modell hugging Baltimore Ravens Linebacker Ray Lewis in a 2001 photograph might prove to be a bad choice since the jury is still out as to whether or not Lewis committed murder.

For your readers who may not be familiar with the background: Following a Super Bowl party in Atlanta on Jan. 31, 2000, a fight broke out between Ray Lewis and his companions and another group of people, resulting in the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. Lewis and two companions, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, were questioned by Atlanta police, and 11 days later the three men were indicted on murder and aggravated assault charges. The white suit Lewis was wearing the night of the killings has never been found.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard alleged that the bloodstained suit was dumped in a garbage bin outside a fast food restaurant. Lewis’ attorneys negotiated a plea agreement with the Fulton County District Attorney, where the murder charges against Lewis were dismissed in exchange for his testimony against Oakley and Sweeting, and his guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice.  Lewis admitted that he gave a misleading statement to police on the morning after the killings.

Superior Court Judge Alice D. Bonner sentenced Lewis to 12 months probation, the maximum sentence for a first-time offender; and he was fined $250,000 by the NFL, which was believed to be the highest fine levied against an NFL player for an infraction not involving substance abuse.  Under the terms of the sentence, Lewis could not use drugs or alcohol during the duration of the probation.

Oakley and Sweeting were acquitted of the charges in June 2000.  No other suspects have ever been arrested for the crime.

On April 29, 2004, Lewis reached a settlement with 4-year-old India Lollar, born months after the death of her father Richard, pre-empting a scheduled civil proceeding. Lewis also reached an undisclosed settlement with Baker’s family.

Today Lewis is being accused of using a performance enhancement drug (a deer-antler spray) that is banned by the NFL. In addition, Reginald Oakley, who was involved in the incident but acquitted, has written a “tell all” book called “Memories of Murder” which is scheduled to be released this summer.

Marvin Fremerman
Springfield, Mo.