Ray Lewis’ co-defendant in 2000 murder trial gives his version of events that led to killings

February 2, 2013

Ray Lewis Reginald Oakley

As Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis prepares to play in Super Bowl XLVII Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, questions continue to arise about his legacy and his connection to a double murder that took place 13 years ago in Atlanta.

One of Lewis’ co-defendants in the double murder trial, Reginald Oakley, said in an interview with Examiner.com Thursday that Lewis didn’t testify about everything he knew about the fatal fight, and tried to shift suspicion onto Oakley after the killings. Still, Oakley says his only problem with Lewis is that the future Hall of Famer blamed Oakley for instigating the fight.

Excerpts from the article are below:

***

And by granting Lewis a plea bargain, Howard, who at the beginning of the trial told the court Lewis was a liar, placed himself in the position of having to prove to the jury that Lewis was credible in testifying against Oakley and Sweeting.

For example, after blood was found on pillows in Lewis’ hotel room after the killings, Howard questioned Lewis so he could provide an explanation. Lewis told the court:

“I had an injury from football that my head — usually when I play, my head gets cut open a lot of times. I have a certain type of skin on the of my head, falitivitis (sic) or something like that. I’m not sure what — exactly what it is, but it bleeds. It used to bleed a lot, and now it’s just really getting, you know, controlled now.”

Howard asked if Lewis took medication for that condition and Lewis replied, “Yes.”

Virtually everyone who testified or talked about the case described varying versions of who started the fight, what exactly happened during the melee, and what occurred in its aftermath. It didn’t help that the incident occurred shortly before 4 a.m., when many witnesses and those involved in the incident were at least partly intoxicated.

No one testified that Lewis ever possessed a knife, and Lewis never testified that he saw a knife in the hands of Oakley or Sweeting during the incident.

***

Oakley’s version of the argument that led to the fight

Oakley told Examiner.com what he said when he walked up to Lewis, who was standing across from Gwen and his friend:

I asked Ray, “Is everything alright?” and he tapped me on the shoulder and was like, “Come on, let’s go” and brings me back to the limousine. Gwen and his friend came up behind me, talking tough and I turned around and was like, “Is there a problem?” and then they started talking about what they were going to do.

I said, “You’re not going to do nothing to me, and we got into a confrontation and Ray came back and grabbed me and put me in the limo and he got back out of the limo because his friends, (Joseph) Sweeting and (Kwame) King were out of the limo talking to the guys, asking what’s going on or whatever.

Then one of the guys walked by and said something to Ray and then I saw some more guys coming up behind Ray, so I got out of the limousine to tell Ray, and that’s when Baker hit me in the head with the Moet bottle. And that’s when everybody started fighting.

***

Lewis’ version of the fight

After Baker hit Oakley with the bottle, Lewis testified that a brawl ensued:

LEWIS: It was, from that point, it was chaos, whatever, when he hit him in the head, them two just, I mean, went in a dramatic fashion of fighting.

HOWARD: Would you describe what you mean by “fighting?”

LEWIS: Fighting, I mean, you hit me, I hit you back. We just fighting. We just fighting.

***

Lewis may just happen to be a flawed person who made major mistakes in his past but has learned from them and moved on to live a better life.

That won’t be any consolation to the friends and families of the victims, though.

To read the entire article on Examiner.com, including different accounts of the argument that led to the fight, the brawl, and the aftermath, click here. See http://www.examiner.com/article/ray-lewis-former-co-defendant-speaks-on-argument-that-led-to-2-murders-2000.

Ray Lewis murder trial in news as Ravens and 49ers prepare for Super Bowl

January 26, 2013

When Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis walks off the field after Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans Nov. 3, he will leave a legacy as one of the greatest players of all time.

Off the field, however, questions remain about the 13-time Pro Bowl selection, Super Bowl XXXV MVP, and future Hall of Famer despite numerous charitable works and a reputation for being an inspiration to his team.

In the early morning hours of Jan. 31, 2000 after Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta, two men, Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker, died of stab wounds after a fight with members of Lewis’ entourage outside a nightclub. Lewis and two friends, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, were charged with murder.

Lewis later agreed to plead guilty to obstruction of justice in exchange for the prosecution dropping murder charges against him. As part of the deal, Lewis testified against Oakley and Sweeting, who were subsequently acquitted of murder charges.

I did an article on Lewis’ dual legacy of being a great player and having the stain of the murder trial. I interviewed Priscilla Lollar, the mother of slain victim Richard Lollar; Oakley, and the lawyer who represented Lewis in the case, Ed Garland. Lollar holds Lewis responsible for the death of her son. Oakley said Lewis started the incident with a verbal argument, and Garland said Lewis was truthful once he made the plea bargain (after he misled authorities).

It seems to me that Lewis has gotten tons of praise and virtually no criticism in the past decade or more. It’s only now that the Ravens are in the Super Bowl that people are bringing up the trial again, which had been largely forgotten, just like the victims in the case. Lewis has carefully cultivated a persona of being a spiritual, inspirational leader, and it doesn’t hurt that he is emotional, passionate, and expressive, which is always good for TV.

Please see my article at http://www.examiner.com/article/ray-lewis-legacy-questions-remain-from-murder-trial-for-baltimore-ravens-star.

Best autism articles of 2012: Vaccines, environmental causes, social skills and play dates

January 6, 2013
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Activities for play dates include books, sports equipment and games. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

Autism news in 2012 once again centered on the dramatic increase in autism rates. In March, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that one in 88 children has autism, up 78 percent from 2002.

Scientists increasingly learned through research that autism is largely caused by environmental and man-made factors, a departure from the view held years ago that autism’s causes were nearly all genetic.

Meanwhile, educational and therapeutic interventions continued to evolve, with a strong emphasis on play skills as a way to improve social and life skills for children on the spectrum.

Links and excerpts from 10 autism articles from 2012 are below.

Autism advocates, NIH, CDC testify to Congress about research, autism increase

Autism advocates and government officials testified in front of a congressional committee Thursday about the federal response to the dramatic increase in autism diagnoses in recent years.

One in every 88 babies born in the U.S. will develop autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control, a 23 percent increase since 2009 and a 78 percent increase since 2007. In the 1960s, autism was believed to affect one in 10,000 children in the U.S.

Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee questioned representatives of the National Institutes of Health and CDC about research priorities and subsequent results. A second panel of autism advocates testified about concerns ranging from research to services for people with autism. See the video here.

Numerous congressmen on the committee harshly criticized the NIH and CDC for a lack of effective research results, while agency officials at times struggled to come up with answers. The safety of vaccines was discussed, an issue that NIH and CDC insists is not linked to the rise in autism. However, many parents still steadfastly believe vaccines are one of the causes of the disorder. Members of the House committee recounted instances in which parents told them of children developmentally regressing immediately after being subjected to vaccines.

To read excerpts from the articles on Examiner.com, click here.

RGIII must play better for Redskins to beat Seahawks in playoffs

January 6, 2013

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will try to lead Washington to its first playoff win in seven seasons when the Redskins (10-6) host the Seattle Seahawks (11-5) Sunday at FedEx Field.

The game features Rookie of the Year candidates Griffin and Russell Wilson. Both quarterbacks are excellent passers and can run the ball exceptionally well.

More importantly, Griffin led the Redskins from a 3-6 start to a 10-6 finish, while Wilson led Seattle to a four-game improvement from 2011.

Griffin is getting a lot of publicity from the media and love from fans, and rightfully so. Griffin has led the Redskins to five more wins than they had last year, with help from rookie running back Alfred Morris, receiver Pierre Garçon and a host of veterans.  Morris rushed for a Redskins record 1,613 yards in his rookie campaign. Morris also ran for 13 touchdowns, a Redskins rookie record.

But lost in the excitement of the Redskins making the playoffs for just the fourth time in the last two decades is the fact that Griffin didn’t have a great game in the Redskins’ 28-18 win against Dallas last week. Griffin was less accurate than usual, finishing just 9 of 18 for 100 yards and no touchdown passes, though he did run one in for a score in the huge win that got the Redskins into the playoffs.

To read the rest of my article, click here for Examiner.com and here for Bleacher Report.

Redskins-Cowboys rivalry gets jump start with NFC East on the line

December 29, 2012
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Robert Griffin III is about to write his own chapter in the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry. Photo by Bill Bride.

Sunday night’s game between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys is the biggest game in years in the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry. The winner takes the NFC East. Dallas will go home with a loss, while the Skins can still make the playoffs if the Bears and Vikings both lose.

The once great rivalry has become stale in recent years, but players like Diron Talbert, Dexter Manley, Roger Staubach and Harvey Martin stoked the flames in the ’70s and ’80s. Redskins coach George Allen started it all by making the Cowboys a bitter rival.

To read my article on the best 20 games of the rivalry, click below.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1461690-washington-redskins-dallas-cowboys-rivalry-20-of-the-best-games

http://www.examiner.com/article/redskins-cowboys-rivalry-from-theismann-and-staubach-to-rgiii-and-romo

To see previous articles about the Redskins, go to www.myredskinsblog.com.

Michael Wilbon: Mediocre writer

December 16, 2012

I wrote this a while ago on www.myredskinsblog.com. I’m including it here too.

Michael Wilbon, formerly of the Washington Post and now of ESPN, hates the Redskins and D.C. He now has called D.C. a “terrible” sports town. Sounds like Wilbon is upset now that D.C. teams are finally doing well again. He was on the bandwagon in the 1980s and early 1990s when the Skins were winning Super Bowls. I guess Wilbon just has to project his own personality onto other people. He is a sorry, no-account fraud who rips D.C. because he thinks it’s not cool to be from here. Wilbon, we’re sick of you kissing up to athletes. You’re past your prime. You’ve jumped the shark.

If you want to read about D.C. as a sports town, click here.

Autism advocates, federal officials testify to Congress about autism rates, vaccines, and research

December 2, 2012

Autism advocates and government officials testified in front of a congressional committee Thursday about the federal response to the dramatic increase in autism diagnoses in recent years.

One in every 88 babies born in the U.S. will develop autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control, a 23 percent increase since 2009 and a 78 percent increase since 2007. In the 1960s, autism was believed to affect one in 10,000 children in the U.S.

Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee questioned representatives of the National Institutes of Health and CDC about research priorities and subsequent results. A second panel of autism advocates testified about concerns ranging from research priorities to services for people with autism. See the video here.

Some of the committee members harshly criticized the NIH and CDC for a lack of effective results, while agency officials at times struggled to come up with answers.

Some highlights from the hearing:

Congressmen, led by Rep. Dan Burton (R-IL), a longtime proponent of vaccine safety, urged NIH and CDC to get mercury out of all childhood vaccines. Thimerosal, a mercury preservative, was removed from most, but not all childhood vaccines by 2003.

Representatives of NIH and CDC claimed that much, and possibly all of the increase in autism rates can be accounted for by better detection, a claim that was questioned by many congressmen and disputed by Mark Blaxill of SafeMinds.

“Some observers have claimed this rise is not real,” Blaxill told the committee. “That numbers are going up because of ‘better diagnosing.’ While it is true that we now diagnose autism with better tools, that doesn’t mean there is some ‘hidden horde’ of overlooked autism cases. The old surveys didn’t just miss 99% of children with autism. Anyone who reads them will see the obvious: it’s clear the researchers were diligent in finding cases and confident that they found the vast majority of children. It’s horrible but true; reported rates of autism have risen simply because there are more cases of autism.”

Blaxill also urged the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee to focus on environmental causes of autism instead of genetics.

Vaccine critics have also questioned why the government hasn’t conducted studies of vaccinated versus unvaccinated populations. Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), asked this very question of Collen Boyle of the CDC.

She talked about vaccines in general, then was interrupted by Posey, who clarified the question: “So clearly, definitely, unequivocally, you have studied vaccinated versus unvaccinated?”

“We have not studied vaccinated versus unvaccinated,” replied Boyle.

“Never mind. Stop there. That was the meaning of my question. You wasted two minutes of my time,” said Posey.

To read the entire article on Examiner.com, click here.

Traffic pollution, air quality linked with increased risk of autism

December 2, 2012

Babies in the womb and during their first year are two to three times more likely to develop autism if exposed to high levels of traffic-related air pollution and poor air quality, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine at USC published the study in the November issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. The study compared 279 children with autism and 245 control children with typical development in California.

Metals and chemicals may be part of the toxic stew that affects fetuses and babies, which are more susceptible to toxins in the environment.

To read the entire article on Examiner.com, click here.

 

Maryland’s move to Big Ten: Minor upgrade for football, lateral move for basketball

December 1, 2012
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Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Photo by Bill Bride, Inside Maryland Sports.

Maryland’s move to the Big Ten took everyone by surprise. Now that the dust has cleared, it can be said that Terp fans will miss the tradition of the ACC, and it will be strange to play teams from the Midwest. But the move should help with money, obviously, and it should improve the struggling football team. But the ACC isn’t as far below the Big Ten as most people think. As for basketball, top to bottom, the leagues are about the same. To read my articles on the Terps’ move, click here:  http://www.examiner.com/article/maryland-football-by-the-numbers-move-to-big-ten-only-minor-upgrade-from-acc

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1422859-maryland-terrapins-football-move-to-big-ten-only-slight-upgrade-from-acc

Who has Washington D.C.’s worst sports losses of the modern era: Redskins, Caps or Nats?

October 30, 2012

In D.C. we’ve had some bad sports losses. From the Redskins to the Caps, Nats, Wizards and Maryland Terrapins, we’ve just about seen it all. Of course, we’ve had our titles too – three Super Bowl wins by the Skins, an NBA title by the Bullets, and even the Senators won the World Series before most of us were born. Anyway, to see a list of D.C.’s worst sports losses of the modern era, inspired by the Nats’ recent choke against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS, click below for the entire article on Examiner.com and Bleacher Report.


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