ATTLEBORO, Mass — An agitated and armed Aaron Hernandez complained that he could not trust anyone. Calling from his suburban home, Hernandez, a tight end for the New England Patriots, summoned two accomplices from out of state and together they embarked on a middle-of-the-night, 45-minute drive to Boston to pick up his friend Odin Lloyd, who, prosecutors said, had angered Hernandez for talking to the wrong people during a long visit to a Boston nightclub two nights earlier.
Within hours, the 27-year-old Lloyd was dead, shot five times and left in an industrial park less than a mile from Hernandez’s home.
These accounts were laid out Wednesday by prosecutors in Attleboro District Court, where Hernandez was charged with murder and five gun-related offenses. He is believed to be the third NFL player charged with murder while active.
About an hour after Hernandez, 23, was arrested Wednesday morning — and before he was arraigned on murder charges — the Patriots released him, calling it “the right thing to do.”
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The Patriots promptly removed Hernandez from the roster on their website, and the NFL in turn stopped selling his jersey online.
In court, Hernandez, who pleaded not guilty and was held without bail, showed no emotion as the charges against him were read.
One of Hernandez’s lawyers, Michael K. Fee, called the district attorney’s case against his client, “at bottom, a circumstantial case; it is not a strong case.”
Hernandez, dressed in the same white T-shirt and red athletic shorts he was wearing when he was arrested at his elegant home, was led away in handcuffs, pausing briefly to wipe sweat from above his eyebrow. He was ordered to appear in court again July 24 for a probable cause hearing. On the murder charge, he faces a life sentence without parole.
Hernandez, prosecutors said, felt betrayed that Lloyd, who had been dating his fiancee’s sister, had talked to some people Hernandez “had troubles with” when the two men were out together.
Prosecutor Bill McCauley said when Hernandez returned home at 3:30 a.m., surveillance videos at his house — shot by cameras that were later destroyed — showed him walking through the house with a pistol. No gun has been found.
Investigators did not say who fired the shots at Lloyd and they did not identify the two other people who were with Hernandez.