Former Patriots player Aaron Hernandez, charged with murder, fails in second attempt to get bail
FALL RIVER — Police on Wednesday found .45-caliber bullets in a condo rented by former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez and in a car linked to him, the same caliber ammunition Hernandez allegedly used to shoot and kill Odin L. Lloyd in a North Attleborough industrial park on June 17, a prosecutor said today.
The new disclosure about a possible forensic link between Hernandez and the murder of Lloyd, a 27-year-old Dorchester man, was made in Bristol Superior Court, where attorneys for Hernandez asked Judge Renee P. Dupuis to allow him to be freed on bail while he fights a first-degree murder charge.
Defense attorney James Sultan said in court that law enforcement has so far failed to produce strong evidence connecting the former professional football player to the death of Lloyd, an acquaintance of Hernandez’s.
“This is a case where as far as we know, there is no eyewitness testimony, there are no inculpatory admissions, there has been no indications, any direct evidence, as to who shot the decedent, who was present when the decedent was shot, whether there was a plan to kill the decedent, and any other indication that if there was such a plan, Mr. Hernandez was part of it,’’ Sultan said. “They may have such evidence, they may not, Your Honor. But they haven’t shown it to us as yet at this early stage of the case.”
But Dupuis, after hearing from Bristol First Assistant District Attorney William McCauley, who gave a lengthy recitation of the state’s evidence, denied the bail request.
From the bench, Dupuis said she considered the case against Hernandez to be “circumstantial, to be sure, but very, very strong.”
Sultan said outside the courtroom that he felt the decision was unfair, and the defense team was considering an appeal.
“He’s a very strong young man, and he’s doing the best he can,” Sultan said.
Hernandez, who was cuffed and wore a green jail uniform during the court appearance, showed no obvious emotion as he was led out of the courtroom by court officers. Hernandez, who was living in a rambling home in North Attleborough with an in-ground pool until his arrest on Wednesday, will now be returned to the Bristol County jail, where he will be held without bail.
At his arraignment Wednesday in Attleboro District Court, Hernandez pleaded not guilty to murder and five firearms-related charges.
In his hometown of Bristol, Conn., a car with the special license plate of HERNDZ was parked in the driveway of the home of Hernandez’s mother, Teri. A woman told a Globe reporter to “please get off my property.’’
The disclosure about the ammunition came as a second man has now been connected by authorities to the death of Lloyd, who was acquainted with Hernandez because the two men were dating sisters.
Carlos Ortiz, a 27-year-old man who lives in Bristol, Conn., Hernandez’s hometown, was arrested Wednesday in Connecticut, waived extradition, and now faces charges of carrying a firearm without a license in Attleboro District Court.
In court papers unsealed this afternoon, State Police said they interviewed Ortiz in Bristol Tuesday. During the questioning, Ortiz allegedly admitted that he was in North Attleborough on June 17 – the day Lloyd was murdered -- and that he was armed with a firearm at that time.
After Lloyd was shot five times early on the morning of June 17, prosecutors say, the surveillance cameras at Hernandez’s home captured images of him and another man entering his house while both held firearms in their hands.
In court papers, Ortiz is accused of illegally possessing the gun while at Hernandez’s home at Ronald C. Meyer Drive in North Attleborough.
There is no mention in the court papers of Lloyd’s killing.
The new developments came as the Globe reported today that Hernandez is also being investigated in connection with a 2012 double murder in Boston.
Over the past two days, McCauley has outlined, in unusual detail, the case against Hernandez.
In today’s Bristol Superior Court hearing, McCauley said Hernandez and two friends drove into the industrial park early on June 17, where Lloyd was shot five times. Lloyd raised his arm in a futile attempt to ward off the bullets and was shot as he lay, helpless and wounded, on the ground, McCauley said.
“The defendant and confederates advanced on him and shot him twice,’’ McCauley said.
McCauley, in addition to laying out the new evidence obtained Wednesday in the case, said Hernandez might run, if freed on bail.
“He is a flight risk,” McCauley said. “He has the means and the motivation to flee the jurisdiction.”
McCauley also said Hernandez had instructed his girlfriend to stop talking with investigators, destroyed evidence himself, and helped his two accomplices flee the area.
Asked by the judge about a motive for the slaying, McCauley reiterated a prior account that Hernandez was angry at Lloyd for talking with people he had problems with at a Boston nightclub on June 14.
Neither McCauley nor Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter addressed a Globe report today that officials believe Hernandez may have wanted to silence Lloyd because he had knowledge of the football star’s alleged connection to a double murder in Boston in 2012.
McCauley repeatedly described the evidence against Hernandez as “overwhelming,” and said that of all the people tied to Lloyd’s death, only the ex-Patriot had a relationship with him.
“He was the one who was in control the whole time,” McCauley said.
During both court hearings, McCauley said footage gathered from several security cameras showed Lloyd getting into a car with Hernandez and arriving at the industrial park near Hernandez’s home with Hernandez.
During the trip from Boston to North Attleborough early that day, Lloyd texted his sister moments before he was shot multiple times with a .45-caliber handgun.
“Did you see who I am with?” Lloyd wrote after 3 a.m., minutes later offering the answer: “NFL.” And then following up with a final text: “Just so you know.”
The Patriots cut Hernandez after his arrest and removed his name from the team’s website.
Prosecutors said Hernandez summoned friends from his hometown in the hours before Lloyd was murdered.
A search of online court records revealed a number of listings for a man matching Ortiz’s name and birth year in Connecticut, starting in 2003 when Ortiz pleaded guilty to larceny and was given a 90-day suspended sentence and one-year probation.
In 2007, Ortiz was convicted for threatening, and was placed on probation for 18 months; he later served four months in jail for violating the probation.
Then, in July 2010, Ortiz was sentenced to nine months in prison for a third-degree assault charge, the records show. In May 2011, he was arrested once more, and given a 30-day sentence for a breach of peace conviction, records show. And in June 2012, he was given another 30-day sentence following a conviction for criminal mischief, records show.
Ortiz’s last known arrest in Connecticut took place in Bristol, where police charged him with resisting arrest, a charge that has not been resolved, records show.
Three attorneys who previously represented Ortiz could not be reached for comment today.
Hernandez’s arraignment Wednesday in the killing of Lloyd came after a week of suspense in which media had camped out in front of Hernandez’s home and followed his car by helicopter, in a futile search for details from tight-lipped law enforcement officials.
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