News

Aaron Hernandez pleads ‘not guilty’ to murder

Aaron Hernandez pleads ‘not guilty’ to murder

Former New England Patriot football player Aaron Hernandez, listens to procedings in a court in Attleboro, Mass., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. Hernandez was indicted on first-degree murder and weapons charges in the death of a friend whose bullet-riddled body was found in an industrial park about a mile from the ex-player's home. Photo: Associated Press/Josh Reynolds

By Richard Valdmanis

FALL RIVER, Massachusetts (Reuters) – Ex-National Football League player Aaron Hernandez pleaded not guilty on Friday to murder in connection with the June killing of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, and his lawyer said that not “one shred” of damning evidence had yet been presented.

Hernandez, 23, appeared at his arraignment in Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, wearing a dark suit jacket and white collared shirt, said “not guilty” as the charges of first-degree murder and five firearms violations were read aloud.

Some members of Lloyd’s family, dressed in Lloyd’s favorite color purple, broke into tears during the brief hearing.

Hernandez was a star tight end for the New England Patriots but was cut by the team within hours of his June 26 arrest.

Lloyd’s body had been found nine days earlier in an industrial area near Hernandez’s home in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. Lloyd, 27, had been dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée.

Prosecutors have said that Hernandez and two other men drove Lloyd to the industrial park and shot him five times, including twice while he lay helpless on the ground.

A lawyer for Hernandez, Charles Rankin, told reporters after the arraignment that he believed the prosecution’s case was weak. “Not one shred of evidence has been presented yet, and we feel confident that when evidence is finally presented in a court of law that Aaron will be exonerated,” he said.

Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter, speaking shortly after Rankin, disagreed: “Over 500 pages of documents have been released to the press and the public. Those include … returns on search warrants, still photographs from video surveillance …. I think that evidence speaks for itself.”

Hernandez is being held without bail, but Superior Court Judge Frances McIntyre granted a request by Hernandez’s attorneys to reserve the right to seek bail in the future. His previous effort to be released on bail was denied.

Hernandez, whose contract with the Patriots had been worth about $40 million, is being held in the Bristol County Jail. The next pretrial hearing has been set for Oct 9.

The Patriots are scheduled to take the field against the Buffalo Bills in New York on Sunday in their first game of the 2013-14 season.

The former Patriots star is also being investigated in connection with a double-murder in Boston in 2012 and has been sued by a Connecticut man who has accused Hernandez of shooting him in the face after a night at a Miami strip club in February. No criminal charges have been filed in either case.

Recent Headlines

in Local

Truck, Freight Train Collide Near Blue Mound

medical

A truck driver was injured after he was hit by a freight train on Route 48 near the Macon/Christian County line.

in Local

Florence Sentenced to 72 Years

sangamon_county_building_3

The man who attacked a Springfield police officer responding to a dropped 911 call has been sentenced to 72 years in prison.

in Local

Former U.S. House Speaker Hastert Indicted

hastert

Federal prosecutors have announced bank-related charges against former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

in Local

State Rep. Questions Payroll Practices for Education Secretary

rauner

At least one Illinois lawmaker is asking for an explanation – why is the governor’s Education Secretary being paid from the Human Services budget?

in Local

Springfield Unemployment Rate Drops to 4.3%

unemployment

The rate fell to 4.3 percent this April, compared to 5.3 percent last April.