Methodically and in chilling detail Wednesday, prosecutors showed why it took 10 days to charge former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez with murder.
Using surveillance camera video that tracked Hernandez from his home in North Attleborough to Boston and back, cellphone pings, text messages and evidence left in a rental car and collected in two searches of his house and surrounding areas, Bristol County assistant district attorney William McCauley presented a tight timeline he insisted placed Hernandez with victim Odin Lloyd for roughly an hour the morning he was killed, right up to the minute Lloyd was executed.
Hernandez, who also faces five gun charges and was ordered held without bail, pleaded not guilty. His next court date is July 24, but he could appeal the bail decision before that.
There is no death penalty in Massachusetts, should Hernandez be brought to trial and convicted of murder. But at 23, a year after signing a $40 million contract with the Patriots, he is staring at life in prison. He has a 7-month-old daughter.
More than five hours after he was surprised by police and taken from his home in handcuffs at 8:45 a.m. ET Wednesday, and four hours after he was released by the Patriots, Hernandez stood emotionless and handcuffed as McCauley told district court Judge Daniel J. O’Shea, a packed courtroom and a national TV audience that Hernandez “drove the victim to that remote spot, and then he orchestrated the execution” of Lloyd, a 27-year-old semipro football player and friend.
Incredibly, the motive, McCauley said, was that Hernandez caught Lloyd speaking to people Hernandez didn’t like.
After more than a week in which authorities and Hernandez’s lawyers provided few details about the case, McCauley laid it out in a gripping 45-minute tale of a gangland-style killing.
McCauley said Lloyd was killed with five bullets about 3:25 a.m. June 17 in a secluded industrial park roughly a half-mile from Hernandez’s home. Two other men, allegedly summoned by Hernandez by text message that night, also were involved in the killing, McCauley said, but their names were not released.
The district attorney’s office protected their identities by getting a judge to impound records — such as the police report and search warrants — and prosecutors did not say whether the two would be charged.
McCauley said Hernandez had the “motive, means and opportunity” to kill Lloyd, but Hernandez’s attorney, Michael Fee, after listening to the evidence, called the case “circumstantial” and “not strong.”
McCauley did not say directly that Hernandez pulled the trigger on any of the shots, but the criminal complaint states that Hernandez “did assault and beat” Lloyd “with intent to murder such person, and by assault and beating did kill and murder such person.”
McCauley said the plot to kill Lloyd probably was hatched June 14, when Lloyd and Hernandez went to a Boston nightclub and Hernandez caught Lloyd talking to people Hernandez “had troubles with.” Two days later, McCauley said, Hernandez summoned two men from out of state, and together they went to the Dorchester section of Boston to pick up Lloyd at his home.
McCauley hinted that Lloyd might have known his fate when he got into the car with Hernandez, because Lloyd cryptically text-messaged his sister and asked, “Did you see who I left with?” When his sister asked who, Lloyd texted, “NFL.” He followed with another text that said, “Just so you know.”
That, McCauley said, was the last time anyone heard from Lloyd.
Prosecutors said investigators tracked the car’s movement to a gas station, to Lloyd’s home at 2:35 a.m. and then to the empty lot where Lloyd was shot. They said Hernandez also was incriminated by the rental car he used, and shell casings and chewed bubblegum — the same brand of gum Hernandez bought at the gas station — were found in the vehicle.
In the industrial park, surveillance videos captured the men arriving in the same silver Nissan that Lloyd had climbed into in Dorchester, McCauley said. He added that night-crew workers in the area heard gunshots between 3:23 and 3:27 a.m.
McCauley gave a blow-by-blow of the killing, saying Lloyd was shot once as he got out of the car, crumpling to the ground. As he raised his arm to protect himself, he was shot multiple times. A total of five spent .45-caliber casings were recovered at the scene and in the car, McCauley said. Tire tracks found near the body were consistent with the Nissan, he said.
A few minutes later, surveillance video at Hernandez’s home showed him walking through the house with a pistol in his hand, McCauley said. As Lloyd’s mother heard this part of the evidence, she began to cry and had to be helped from the courtroom. As she departed through a door in back, Hernandez had a clear view of her, but he didn’t turn his head.
Hernandez’s fiancée also left the courtroom in tears.
Hernandez had recently installed the surveillance system, which included 14 cameras, inside and out, said McCauley, who added that detectives found footage was missing from the six to eight hours after the slaying. The two weapons caught on the surveillance video have not been found, McCauley said.
Gag order for both sides
As the sensational day unfolded, the Patriots released Hernandez and said in a statement, “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.”
he killed him because of what?!
that is crazy.
also very suspect.
was this a lover’s quarrel gone wrong?
i had to go there.
well he is on the way to the big house.
his vixen is pretty too and he just had a son:
my only advice:
don’t drop the soap.
i see the appeal.
shame he threw his career away.
he looks like he don’t give a fuck either.