Ray Lewis murder questions questions were inescapable during Super Bowl week as a hazy incident from more than a decade ago dogged the Baltimore Ravens linebacker.
But, despite continued accusations from fans and across the internet, the fact remained that no evidence ever linked Lewis with the slayings of two men on Super Bowl weekend in 2000, and he was never charged nor convicted. In fact, no one was convicted — the two friends of Ray Lewis charged with the murder were acquitted for lack of evidence.
What is true is that Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker got into a fight with Ray Lewis and his friends after Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta. The two men ended up killed from stab wounds. Ray Lewis and the crew he was with were originally charged, but Ray Lewis ultimately plead out to obstructing justice for initially lying to police officers.
Baltimore Sun crime reporter Dan Rodricks, who covered the trial, noted that while public sentiment paints Ray Lewis as a murderer, the facts say otherwise.
“Had Lewis been convicted, he’d have gone to prison and become a tragic memory instead of a football legend. Convictions of his two co-defendants might have insulated Lewis from the persistent suspicion and unforgiving sarcasm.
“But those things did not happen, and for sound reasons based in law.
“I covered the Ray Lewis murder trial with a team of Sun reporters. After a couple of days of the state’s presentation, I described the prosecution as “sputtering” and having “fizzled,” but that was kind. The prosecution was awful. There was no evidence that Lewis killed anyone during the infamous closing-time brawl outside the Cobalt Lounge on East Paces Ferry Road in the Buckhead entertainment section of Atlanta, after Super Bowl XXXIV. Witness testimony against him was thin, contradictory and confusing.
“In fact, there was more evidence that Lewis had tried to stop two men in his partying entourage from engaging in the fight that resulted in the stabbing deaths of Baker and Lollar.”
Some still say Ray Lewis is guilty of murder because he “paid off” the families of those killed, but legal experts point out that his decision to settle the civil cases brought against him is not uncommon.
Former teammate and current CBS analyst Shannon Sharpe said he is happy to see Ray Lewis go out on top and sign a deal with ESPN to become a commentator post-retirement.
“That shows you how someone can rehabilitate their life,” Sharpe told the Baltimore Sun. “I’m sure there are some people that still dislike Ray for what transpired in Atlanta, but I know a different Ray Lewis.”
Though prosecutors never charged Ray Lewis with murder, for many that will remain his legacy. That’s unfortunate for Lewis, who spent the rest of his career trying to atone for his bad decisions.