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Three assault charges against Lewis are inadmissible

ATLANTA (AP) -- Three previous assault charges against Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis cannot be admitted as evidence in his murder trial, a judge ruled today.

The assault charges, all of them dropped, were filed by three women. Judge Alice Bonner said the charges were not similar enough to those Lewis now faces.

Prosecutors argued the assault charges showed Lewis had a history of violence and rebutted the defense's claim that Lewis acted as peacemaker during the street fight after the Super Bowl in Atlanta.

Ed Garland, Lewis' defense lawyer, noted the dropped charges carry "a danger of unfair prejudice and confusion."

The defense today also asked the judge to suppress evidence collected at Lewis' home in Baltimore.

Defense lawyer Don Samuel said police did not have sufficient reason to look for evidence of a crime there and said the search warrant was too broad.

Prosecutors said police searched Lewis' home because most of his things had been removed from his Atlanta hotel room. They also suspected co-defendant Reginald Oakley might have returned to Lewis' home.

The judge did not immediately rule on that matter. The court planned to hear further motions today.

Lewis and two co-defendants are expected to stand trial May 15 on charges they murdered Jacinth Baker, 21, and Richard Lollar, 24, after a party following the Super Bowl.

Lewis' lawyers might find it difficult to continue their strategy portraying the linebacker as a devoted family man who hardly knew two others charged in the deaths.

A newspaper reported Sunday that Lewis appeared with a co-defendant in a sexually explicit mail-order video. The video shows Lewis and Joseph Sweeting watching party guests perform sex acts for money.

Defense attorneys have said Lewis hardly knew Sweeting and the other co-defendant, Reginald Oakley.

The videotape, "Luke's Freak Show: Cancun 1999," was produced at a party thrown in the Mexican resort town by rap musician Luther Campbell.

In it, Lewis enters with Sweeting and dances shirtless between two scantily dressed and gyrating women.

Campbell, leader of the rap group 2 Live Crew, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he is friends with Lewis and Sweeting, a fledgling music producer and strip club promoter from Miami. The three met when Lewis was playing with the University of Miami.

Campbell, who wears Lewis' No. 52 Ravens jersey while promoting videos and CDs on his Web site, called Sweeting a "good friend" of Lewis.

Oakley, the other co-defendant, does not appear in the video, which has not been mentioned in the case.

Sweeting has a long criminal history, including convictions for grand theft and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The charges stem from the mid-1980s.

"Joe had some problems but that's all long ago," his brother Anthony said. "Some of that is 15 years ago, half his life."

Oakley also has a significant criminal past, with about 25 criminal counts against him between 1985 and 1992. Charges include assault, embezzlement, possession of a stolen vehicle, and assault on a police officer.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Oakley met Lewis while living in the home of model Garfield Yuille, a former minor league basketball player.

At the time of the stabbings, Oakley was a member of Lewis' limousine party. A would-be record and film producer, Oakley was reportedly trying to make contacts with celebrities at the Super Bowl.
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