Aaron Hernandez Pleads Not Guilty At Superior Court Murder Indictment
Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end, pleaded not guilty in the shooting death of 27-year-old semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd and the accompanying weapons charges.
Hernandez, 23, appeared at the Massachusetts courtroom in a navy blue blazer and a white button-down shirt without a tie. When the Superior Court clerk read out the six charges levied against him – first-degree murder, illegal possession of a firearm, etc. – Hernandez responded “not guilty” six times, reported CNN. The plea hearing, which took place at Bristol Superior Court, lasted only 10 minutes.
Hernandez’s attorney Charles Rankin believes that his client has a respectable chance of getting an acquittal due to what he sees as circumstantial evidence. “Not one shred of evidence has been presented yet," Rankin said. "And we feel confident that when evidence is finally presented in a court of law that Aaron will be exonerated.”
Bristol County district attorney Sam Sutter disagrees, believing that the prosecution has accumulated sufficient evidence against Hernandez to get a conviction. "Over 500 pages of documents have been released to the press and the public," he said. "Those include applications for search warrants, returns on search warrants, still photographs from video surveillance, Trooper (Eric) Benson's comprehensive arrest warrant report. So I think that evidence speaks for itself."
Rankin and the defense team, who are wary of the effects of evidence appearing in the media on the court of public opinion, will seek a tightened gag order when they appear at Hernandez’s next hearing on Oct. 9. On Friday, the judge ordered that a gag order be upheld pertaining to notes and evidence regarding the case.
At Hernandez’s Oct. 9 hearing, his lawyers will also be asking for bail. They plan on arguing that the evidence doesn’t add up to justifying his ongoing imprisonment, that he does not pose a threat to the public, nor does he present a flight risk. Regardless of the amount of (or lack of) evidence, it's unlikely that the former football star will be granted bail, according to high-profile defense attorney Michael Grieco. “I have seen bonds granted in similar circumstances and denied when the government has less, Grieco told USA Today Sports. “The wild card is the media scrutiny, which does not favor the defendant's release."
Hernandez’s possible connections to other shootings under investigation will also work against his request for bail.
On Monday, June 17, Lloyd’s body was found at an industrial park not far from Hernandez’s North Attleboro, Mass., home. Hernandez was questioned in the murder investigation the following day and was arrested and charged with first-degree murder a week and a half later on June 26. The New England Patriots released their star tight end that same day.
– Chelsea Regan
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