Super Bowl Fight Case Nears End

Friday, June 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) — A prosecutor told jurors Friday that there is enough evidence to convict to convict two friends of Ray Lewis of murder even though no witnesses saw them stab anyone in a street brawl.

In his closing argument, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said several witnesses saw Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting fighting with the victims and other evidence points to them as the killers.

There was ``a decision, a chase, a killing, a blood trail,'' Howard told jurors.

He said there is evidence that Oakley stabbed, punched, kicked and dragged one of the victims, Jacinth Baker. He also said that the evidence showed Sweeting chased and confronted the other Richard Lollar.

Lewis, an All-Pro linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, was originally charged along with Sweeting and Oakley in the slayings, which occurred after a post-Super Bowl party Jan. 31. In a deal with prosecutors, Lewis pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor obstruction of justice and testified against his two former co-defendants.

Lewis said he saw both defendants fighting and that Sweeting indicated that he stabbed Baker. Howard has said witnesses couldn't see the knives because both men held the weapons in their fists and struck the death blows with a punching motion.

On Thursday, Superior Court Judge Alice D. Bonner dropped one murder charge each against both defendants, saying a jury could not reasonably conclude that each defendant was responsible in both slayings. Sweeting, of Miami, still faces a murder charge in the death of Lollar. Oakley, of Baltimore, still faces murder charges in the death of Baker.

Both could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

Bonner also denied a request by Oakley's lawyer to have the jury also consider an involuntary manslaughter charge in their deliberations.

Howard told jurors that Sweeting and Oakley would try to claim they were defending themselves in the fight outside a north Atlanta nightclub. He called that justification ``ridiculous.''

``The men from Ohio were simply standing on the corner when Reginald Oakley started this whole incident,'' Howard said.

After a morning break, defense lawyers were to give their closing arguments. Lewis planned to hold a news conference Friday afternoon in Baltimore.