A beating, a slaying and a lot of questions
Seahawks safety Ken Hamlin could be moved out of Harborview Medical Center's intensive care unit and into a regular hospital room as soon as this afternoon.
Seattle Times staff reporters
Two days after a nightclub brawl that hospitalized Seattle Seahawks free safety Ken Hamlin with a blood clot on his brain, police have this to work with: a victim who has no memory of the attack, a violent felon found slain four hours after the fight and the brother of the dead man, himself a convicted felon, trying to connect the incidents.
Investigators yesterday remained cautious in drawing any conclusions that the fight and the homicide are related.
A security videotape of an altercation early Monday outside Larry's Nightclub in Pioneer Square shows Hamlin in an apparent verbal confrontation with another, unidentified man. At one point, an aggressive Hamlin slips past security guards and rushes the man. Club owner Larry Culp, basing his comments on the video and conversations with his employees, said Hamlin hit the man and was then knocked down and hit with a metal street sign.
Seen milling in the crowd on the video is a man wearing a jersey with the number 45 on the back. Tramaine Isabell says the man is his older brother, 31-year-old Terrell Devon Milam. Isabell, who was not at the bar, insists it was Milam — a convicted killer who was supposed to be under curfew at a federal halfway house — who knocked the 6-foot-2, 209-pound Hamlin to the ground.
Authorities at the halfway house say they found a dummy in Milam's bed when they went to check on him, and it was unclear how long Milam had been away, according to the state Department of Corrections.
Milam was found shot to death four hours later near Seattle's Seward Park.
"We want answers," Isabell said yesterday.
Milam's mother, reacting to Isabell's version, thinks she already knows.
"He has a fight with Ken Hamlin ... and my son is dead," said Yvette Rhodes. "Because of that fight with Hamlin, my baby's not here anymore. That's in everybody's mind."
Rhodes said detectives asked her not to discuss any possible link between her son's slaying and the fight.
"There's no way of keeping it quiet," she said yesterday.
Police Sgt. Deanna Nollette said detectives have yet to make any connection between the fight at the club and Milam's death. While there is a man on the tape who resembles Milam, investigators have not concluded they are the same person.
"The alleged link between these two incidents is yet to be proven," Nollette said.
Meantime, Hamlin could be moved out of Harborview Medical Center's intensive care unit and into a regular hospital room as soon as today, coach Mike Holmgren said in a news conference earlier today.
Holmgren said he plans to visit Hamlin this weekend, and that players have expressed a desire to see him as well.
Hamlin's agent, Lawrence Temple, said he is conscious, cooperating with police and has retained local defense attorney John Wolfe.
According to a police report on the beating, Hamlin had no recollection of the attack. However, Larry's Nightclub owner Culp has said the 24-year-old Hamlin was the aggressor after Hamlin and another man exchanged words. Hamlin was at the bar with teammates celebrating Sunday night's 42-10 victory over Houston.
Seahawks defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs, reached yesterday, said he also was at the club earlier, but left about an hour before the incident. An eyewitness at the bar, who declined to be identified, said defensive tackle Rocky Bernard was also at the club. Bernard did not return a telephone call, and his agent had no comment.
Hamlin, the son of a Memphis police officer, has a troubled history with alcohol, although the police report on the beating states that he "did not appear intoxicated" at the scene.
While playing for the University of Arkansas, Hamlin was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving three times and convicted twice. He left the Razorbacks as a junior and was drafted by the Seahawks in the second round in April 2003. At the time, general manager Bob Ferguson said the team was hypersensitive to the questions of his character.
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said he was surprised that his former player had landed in trouble.
"I thought he had matured. I thought he'd up and left all that behind," he said yesterday.
Milam, the man found dead a few hours after the altercation at Larry's, had been convicted of first-degree manslaughter, robbery, assault and a host of drug-possession counts. He had spent more than nine years in prison.
In 1994, Milam was charged with murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter for shooting another man five times following a dispute over a craps game in Seattle's Pratt Park. Court papers describe Milam — an aspiring rapper also known as "T-Kidd" — as a member of the Black Gangster Disciples gang. His victim was a member of the rival Crips gang. An assault conviction in Yakima also involved a shooting, according to court papers.
Last year, he pleaded guilty in federal court to being a felon in possession of body armor, which he took to wearing out of fear of being shot, according to court documents.
He served part of an 18-month prison sentence and was placed on federal probation, as well as remaining under state supervision for his other crimes.
Mike Schemnitzer, a state Department of Corrections community corrections officer, said Milam was supposed to be under a 9 p.m. curfew in a federal halfway house in Seattle.
"We didn't want Terrell running around on the street," he said. "That would be dangerous to the public."
Tramaine Isabell, Milam's brother, said he dropped Milam off at Larry's at around 1:45 a.m. Monday.
"He said he would give me a holler in the morning," Isabell said.
Isabell also has a lengthy criminal history, including convictions for unlawful possession of firearms, malicious mischief and domestic violence.
Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle Times staff reporters Jonathan Martin, Jennifer Sullivan, Greg Bishop and Steve Miletich contributed to this report.