ATLANTA — Two friends and former co-defendants of Ray Lewis were acquitted of murder and assault charges, hours after the NFL star began practicing with his team again.

After three weeks of testimony, the jury deliberated less than five hours Monday before returning the verdicts in the trial of Joseph Sweeting and Reginald Oakley.

Oakley hugged his attorney, Bruce Harvey, who pumped his fist in exuberance when the verdicts were announced. Sweeting leaned over and put his head on the defense table.

Sweeting, Oakley and Lewis were charged with murder, felony murder and aggravated assault in the Jan. 31 deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar, who were stabbed outside the party in Atlanta's Buckhead entertainment district.

The verdicts came shortly after Lewis worked out with the Baltimore Ravens for the first time since pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge and testifying for the prosecution in the murder case.

Lewis, the NFL's top tackler last season, reached a plea agreement with the district attorney's office last week. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor obstruction-of-justice charge, testified against Oakley and Sweeting, and will serve a year of probation, but no jail time.

"The irony of this case is the only person convicted in this case was Ray Lewis," Harvey said.

The Ravens' minicamp in Owings Mills, Md., was finished by the time the verdicts came down and Lewis was unavailable for comment. The Ravens said Lewis would have no comment on the acquittals.

"We are deeply, deeply disappointed in the verdict," District Attorney Paul Howard said. "We thought that we had presented ... substantial evidence that we thought should have resulted in a verdict of guilty for these defendants. That didn't happen."

As the jury read the verdict, the families of Sweeting and Oakley cheered, forcing bailiffs to ask them to be quiet. The families of the victims wept and gathered later in the hallway outside the courtroom.

"This is ridiculous," said Faye Lollar, Lollar's aunt. "That money sure did buy a lot of people. All that blood. ... I don't believe this."

Sweeting, a longtime friend of Lewis' from Miami, was charged with Lollar's death. Oakley, an acquaintance of Lewis from Baltimore, was charged with Baker's death.

Both faced life in prison if convicted, but the jury found them innocent on all counts.

Baker and Lollar were stabbed during a street fight that erupted around 4 a.m. as the nightclubs in the Buckhead district were closing after the Super Bowl, which was held in Atlanta.

Evidence showed Baker started the brawl by hitting Oakley in the head with a champagne bottle. Sweeting tried to help Oakley but never made it because two large men attacked him and dragged him behind a tree, Lewis testified. Lewis said he then saw Sweeting regain his footing and start throwing punches and fighting back.

Lewis said Oakley and another member of Lewis' group, Carlos Stafford, were fighting with Baker. He said Oakley punched Baker four or five times in the chest while Stafford was kicking him.

Lewis was the only witness who testified to seeing a knife in anyone's hand. He said Sweeting, Oakley and another friend, Kwame King, bought knives at a sporting goods store one day before the Super Bowl.

He also told the jury that he demanded an explanation from Sweeting after the fight ended. Sweeting showed him a knife, made punching motions with it and said, "Every time they hit me, I hit them," Lewis testified.

Howard, who said the verdict allowed two guilty men to go free, plans to review the case and may bring charges against other people who were in Lewis' limousine. But those will most likely not be murder charges.

"We thought we had the principal doers of this act, and that's still the case," Howard said.

Sweeting's attorney, John Bergendahl, told the jury that the real killer was King, whom Bergendahl called "the man in black." He said King, who has never appeared in court, had a large knife and matched the descriptions several witnesses gave.

Three other men in Lewis' rented limousine — Stafford and two men known only as Gino and Claudus — also never appeared in court.