Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez charged with murder

Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez is charged in a Massachusetts court with murder and several counts of unlawful possession of firearms.

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was formally charged Wednesday afternoon with first degree murder more than a week after a body was found near his Massachusetts home.

Hernandez pleaded not guilty to murder and to five firearms charges including possessing a large capacity firearm. A judge ordered him to be held without bail because of the murder charge.

He orchestrated the crime from the beginning and took steps to conceal and destroy evidence First Assistant District Attorney Bill McCauley told the court.

Wearing a white V neck shirt red sports shorts and handcuffs in Attleboro District Court Hernandez showed no emotion as prosecutors laid out a bruising account of what allegedly happened the night semi professional football player Odin Lloyd was killed citing what they say is surveillance camera footage text messages and witnesses who were working the overnight shift who heard gunshots as evidence. Hernandez wiped tears from his face at the very end of the arraignment.

The bullet punctured body of Lloyd 27 was found by a jogger on June 17 in an industrial park about one mile away from the ex tight end's North Attleborough home. The death was ruled a homicide.

Prosecutors said that the killing was prompted by a fight between the two friends during a trip on June 14 to a Boston nightclub. On June 17 Hernandez and two friends allegedly picked Lloyd up at his house at 2 30 a.m. Surveillance footage from Hernandez's house shows him leaving earlier in the night with a weapon prosecutors said.

After getting into the car Lloyd allegedly texted a family member asking Did you see who I am with prosecutors said. He then texted that it was Hernandez and followed it up with Just so you know in another text message they alleged during the arraignment.

Later that morning between 3 23 a.m. and 3 27 a.m. employees who were working the overnight shift at the industrial park where Lloyd's body would later be found reported hearing gunshots authorities said. It's not clear who investigators believe fired the shots.

It is not a strong case Michael Fee Hernandez's attorney who had asked for bail said in court.

But prosecutors allege home security videos from Hernandez's house show him with firearms after Lloyd had been murdered and show a Nissan Altima the same type of car Hernandez had rented going to and coming from the site where Lloyd's body had been found. He was seen exiting the vehicle at 3 29 a.m. with a gun at his home on the surveillance footage prosecutors claim shortly after authorities say Lloyd was killed.

Hernandez 23 was placed in handcuffs and put in a police cruiser just before 9 a.m. on Wednesday by Massachusetts State Police and North Attleborough police. Authorities have searched his home on the Rhode Island line not far from the Patriots' stadium several times over the past week.

Less than two hours after the arrest the Patriots announced they were releasing Hernandez.

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was taken out of his home in handcuffs more than a week after a body was found near his Massachusetts home.

A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss. Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation. We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do a statement from the team read.

The Patriots drafted Hernandez in 2010. Last summer the team gave Hernandez a five year contract that is worth $40 million including a signing bonus of $12.5 million.

The investigation also cost Hernandez his endorsement contract with CytoSport which makes Muscle Milk and other supplements for athletes last week.

A call to Fee Hernandez's attorney was not immediately returned.

Separately Hernandez is also embroiled in a civil lawsuit by a Connecticut man Alexander Bradley who alleges Hernandez shot him in the eye after the two left a Miami strip club in February.

According to a Palm Beach County police report the case was abandoned because Bradley refused to cooperate with authorities.

Hernandez lives with his fiancee and their infant according to Fee.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This story was originally published on Wed Jun 26 2013 2 53 PM EDT

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