By Elizabeth Barber
BOSTON (Reuters) – A Massachusetts judge agreed on Monday to transfer former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez to a state jail near Boston and closer to his lawyers as he prepares for two trials where he will face charges of murdering three men.
But the former New England Patriots tight end, who was dropped by the team in June 2013, hours after he was arrested and charged with shooting and killing semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd, will be moved back to a Bristol County jail when his trial begins, Associate Justice Susan Garsh said at a hearing in Fall River District Court.
Prosecutors raised no objection to moving Hernandez from the Bristol jail, which is about 50 miles south of Boston.
The trial may not begin until January, Garsh said, noting the defense may need that much time to prepare.
Hernandez’s lawyers agreed they may need more time, saying they planned to file a series of motions before trial.
“It is quite possible that we are going to petition for change of venue,” defense lawyer James Sultan said in court. “There’s certainly more in the pipeline.”
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Lloyd, whose body was found in an industrial park near Hernandez’ North Attleborough, Massachusetts, home, as well as to the 2012 fatal shootings of Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado outside a Boston nightclub.
The trial on the 2012 shootings is due to be held in Boston.
Hernandez, dressed in a dark suit and pink tie, and uncuffed in court, turned to smile at his brother D.J. Hernandez as he was seated in the courtroom.
Hernandez’s lawyers are also asking Garsh to toss out the Lloyd case, arguing the prosecution does not have enough evidence to substantiate the murder charge.
(Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)