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Though he charges that Ray Lewis and his two codefendants are guilty of murder, Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Paul L. Howard Jr.’s opening suggests some defendants may be guiltier than others. “You will be able to follow a blood trail from the scene of the crime all the way to Ray Lewis’ hotel room,” Howard told jurors. But other than highlighting Lewis’ alleged participation in a fight that left two men dead on Jan. 31, Howard indicated the strongest evidence might implicate Reginald Oakley and Joseph L. Sweeting. There have been several attempts by defense lawyers to sever the cases — one as late as Monday following the completion of jury selection — but Superior Court Judge Alice D. Bonner has so far refused. That didn’t stop Lewis’ attorney, Edward T.M. Garland of Garland, Samuel & Loeb from trying to shift the focus from his client during his opening. “What is really important is what [Howard] did not say. He did not tell you Ray Lewis killed anyone. He did not tell you he knifed anyone,” Garland told jurors. Facing the jury before a wall of aerial photographs of East Paces Ferry Road where the murders took place and a chart outlining the reasons for Lewis’ innocence, Garland told jurors the football star tried to prevent the brawl and, when that failed, attempted to break it up. Lewis, he said, didn’t stab anyone, have or use a knife or encourage anyone else to use a weapon, Garland said. If the prosecution can’t show that he did, Garland said, “There is no case.” GARLAND GETS ROOM TO WORK Howard objected early in Garland’s opening, charging that the defense lawyer was making an argument, not outlining his case. Bonner overruled the objection, saying she would give Garland some room to work. Howard, in his opening, told jurors that Duane Fassett, the man driving Lewis’ rented Lincoln Navigator limousine the night of the killings, will testify that he heard both Sweeting and Oakley say of their brawl victims: “I stabbed mine.” Howard presented this reconstruction of the events leading to the murders: Oakley and some of Lollar’s and Baker’s friends were engaging in mutually insulting taunting as Lewis’ entourage prepared to leave the Cobalt Club. Someone dragged Oakley away and into the limousine. However, Baker and Lollar passed the limousine as they walked up the street. More taunting ensued and Oakley jumped out of the car to chase Baker up the street. Baker cracked Oakley over the head with a champagne bottle and Oakley slammed Baker to the ground and began to beat him. The fight turned into a rout, with the much-more athletic Lewis and his friends pounding mercilessly on the smaller Baker and Lollar. Howard characterized the fight as “Big people beating up on little people.” He repeatedly referred to Baker as “little Jacinth Baker,” Howard said the defendants had all bought knives, the Saturday before the slayings and that knives like those were used to kill Baker and Lollar. No witnesses, he said, will testify they saw knives in the hands of the defendants, Howard said, because the attackers used their knives between their fingers in a punching style that conceals the blade. However, at least three more versions of that night’s events are expected to emerge at trial. MOTION TO SUPPRESS The court heard last-minute arguments Monday on a motion by Lewis’ lawyers to suppress a statement he made to Atlanta Police investigators while still a “witness” in the case. Another of Lewis’ lawyers, Donald F. Samuel, told Bonner investigators had drawn his client a grim picture of what would happen if he didn’t cooperate. “‘If you don’t give a statement, there will be consequences — at least economic consequences. If you give a statement, everything will be OK’ — which was a lie,” Samuel said. Howard countered that the investigators were only trying to persuade Lewis to return with them to the station to give a statement, not to extract a confession. Howard added that Lewis’ statement was not a confession but an explicit denial of any involvement and that even had the statement been a confession, it would still be admissible because Lewis gave it freely. In that statement, Lewis claimed to have no idea what happened in the fight outside of the limousine, and said he did not know the other passengers in the limo very well. The DA noted that Lewis came and went from the room during the interview, talked with his family and even talked with a lawyer on his cell phone. Bonner admitted the statement and provoked a flurry of new motions from one of Oakley’s lawyers, Bruce S. Harvey, and one of Sweeting’s lawyers, Steven H. Sadow. The statement, they told Bonner, could prejudice jurors against Oakley and Sweeting. Sadow asked Bonner to rule the statement inadmissible against Sweeting and to instruct the jury that no negative inference should be drawn from it in relation to Lewis’ co-defendants. The prosecution, Sadow said, seems ready to imply that Lewis lied in his statement to police — a charge that will affect his client. “We cannot be held responsible for anything Lewis may have said,” Sadow said. Bonner ruled the statement inadmissible against Sweeting and Oakley, and said she would instruct the jury about how to consider the statement. But Harvey said that might not be enough to protect Oakley, his client. Lewis’ statement mentions a man called “A.J.” who gets hit over the head with a bottle. Harvey said that his client is the only one that all parties agree goes by the name “A.J.”, fits the description Lewis gave and had a bottle cracked over his head. The identification is complete, he told the judge. “That implicates us directly, and it entitles us to a severance in this trial,” Harvey said, raising the motion a second time. Calling Lewis’ account to the police a “false exculpatory statement,” Harvey said the jurors inevitably will draw inferences from it against his client. It is unfair to his client to try him alongside Ray Lewis, Harvey said. “As much as I like him and admire him, I don’t want to be on trial with him,” he said.

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