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Separate Trials Denied in Lewis Case

ATLANTA (AP) — NFL star Ray Lewis will be tried with his two co-defendants, and their murder trial will start May 15.

The defense's request for separate trials was denied Friday. Judge Alice Bonner said the court was ``not persuaded that the issues raised by defendants justify severance'' of the trial.''

The Baltimore Ravens linebacker, Joseph Sweeting and Reginald Oakley are charged with murder in the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. The two men were killed after a fight following a post-Super Bowl party in Atlanta.

Ed Garland, one of Lewis' lawyers, did not immediately return a message left at his office. Prosecutors said they could not comment on the ruling because of a gag order.

Garland has said Lewis did not stab the two men and was not involved in the fight that preceded their deaths. Witnesses accounts have differed although several have said they saw Lewis throwing punches during the scuffle outside an Atlanta nightclub.

Lewis, 24; Sweeting, 34, of Miami; and Oakley, 31, of Baltimore, face up to life in prison if convicted.

The three men and several others sped from the scene of the stabbings in a stretch limousine rented by Lewis for Super Bowl weekend. Police said Lewis, the NFL's leading tackler last season, lied to investigators about his relationship to Sweeting and Oakley.

Garland had requested a speedy trial for Lewis, who remains on the Ravens' roster. All three men are out on bail, and Lewis has been at home in Baltimore.
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