Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez is slated to be arraigned Friday on a murder charge in Bristol Superior Court in Fall River, the first step in what is expected to be an intense legal battle that will reach an endgame when he goes on trial.
Hernandez has been charged with first-degree murder and five firearms charges stemming from the June 17 shooting of Odin L. Lloyd of Boston in a North Attleborough industrial park.
Hernandez is being held without bail at the Bristol County jail. He was arrested June 26 on a murder charge and pleaded not guilty in Attleboro District Court; the case will now shift to Superior Court, starting with Friday’s arraignment.
On Friday, Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter’s office will have to convince a Superior Court judge that the 24-year-old former professional athlete, who once appeared to have a bright future, may not show up for trial if released on bail.
Hernandez’s defense team, led by Boston attorney Michael Fee, asked that their client be freed on bail when Hernandez first appeared in Attleboro District Court. Fee and co-counsel James L. Sultan could not be reached for comment today on their plans for Friday.
Boston defense attorney Stephen J. Weymouth said it can take 18 months to two years before a murder trial is actually held. During that time, prosecutors will hand over the evidence to the defense. And the defense may try to get some evidence excluded from trial on constitutional grounds or use the evidence to find a witness who can discredit the prosecution’s case.
Hernandez is a millionaire – on paper at least – by virtue of his 2012 contract with the Patriots, which included $9.25 million in signing bonus money, the Globe reported earlier this year. In all, the Globe estimated Hernandez collected $10.15 million before the Patriots cut him June 26.
Weymouth, who has represented numerous murder defendants as a court-appointed attorney during his 33-year career, said Hernandez’s defense will have financial freedom that attorneys in court-appointed cases do not.
“We certainly don’t have the means to pursue whatever we want to do’’ when representing an indigent murder defendant, Weymouth said. “That will not be an issue in this particular case.’’
Weymouth said that if he was in charge of Hernandez’s defense, he would spend money to hire a jury consultant, experts who study the county where potential jurors are drawn from and then develop recommendations on the type of person the defense wants on the Hernandez jury.
“Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,’’ Weymouth said of juror research. “But [the defense] has got nothing to lose.’’
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