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Ex-A&M star back arrested

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Ex-A&M star back arrested

Carter standout Lewis fails to show in court, questioned in slaying

10:00 PM CDT on Friday, July 30, 2004

By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News

A former Carter High School football star who later played for Texas A&M University and the Chicago Bears was arrested Friday morning by Dallas police on warrants issued after he failed to show up in court on theft and assault charges.

Darren G. Lewis, 35, of Dallas was questioned Friday about the slaying of a 21-year-old man last week, though police say he's not a suspect in that case.

Homicide detectives had directed patrol officers to bring in him for questioning in connection with the death of Robert Earl Slaton. A friend found the young man July 21 lying dead on a bed at a house in the 400 block of Embrey Drive. He had been shot in the head, police said.

While questioning witnesses, friends and acquaintances, Mr. Lewis' name kept surfacing as having information, said Sgt. Ken Sprecher, a Dallas homicide supervisor.

"That's why we wanted to talk to him," Sgt. Sprecher said. "Names come up all the time. It's not really fair to have called him a suspect at all in this case."

Jail records show that Mr. Lewis lives with his mother in Dallas. She declined to talk about her son Friday and referred questions to his attorney, Phillip Robertson.

"We can't figure out why he's being questioned in a homicide," Mr. Robertson said. "Darren has some demons he has to deal with, but as far as any crime of violence, it's absolutely out of character for him."

After his career with the National Football League fell apart, his attorney said, Mr. Lewis "fell into a crowd that isn't good for him."

"When I say demons, I think he has a reputation as someone who has experimented with drugs," Mr. Robertson said.

Records show that Mr. Lewis was arrested in an assault case in 2000. His attorney said that the theft charge stemmed from Mr. Lewis "being in a stolen car with someone else."

"The thing with Darren is, for all his leadership appearances on the surface, I think Darren is a follower. That's part of his problem."

Mr. Lewis was an All-America running back as a sophomore in 1988, when he was a consensus pick as the Southwest Conference's Offensive Player of the Year, and as a senior in 1990, when he finished eighth in the Heisman voting. For his career, Mr. Lewis ran for a conference record 5,012 yards, ninth-best in NCAA history.

In 1991, the Chicago Bears drafted Mr. Lewis in the sixth round. He played for the Bears for three seasons.

Former Carter coach Freddie James said he last saw Mr. Lewis at a funeral about a year and a half ago. He said he hadn't seen the former player for four or five years before that and hadn't heard anything about him getting in trouble or falling on hard times.

"That boy was one of the best boys I ever coached," Mr. James said. "So mannered and hardworking. He never got in trouble in school or anything like that."

Staff writer Tim MacMahon contributed to this report.

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