A stone-faced Aaron Hernandez was arraigned in Attleboro District Court on Wednesday and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old acquaintance of Hernandez's whose body was found in an industrial park near Hernandez's home last week.
Hernandez -- released by the Patriots a little more than an hour after his arrest on Wednesday morning -- showed no emotion as six charges (murder, and five gun charges) were read against him. He pleaded not guilty, and is being held without bail.
According to prosecutors, who laid out a detailed timeline of the crime and its aftermath, Lloyd was shot to death. A conviction on a first-degree murder charge in Massachusetts carries a sentence of life in prison. A second-degree murder conviction carries a sentence of life, with a chance for parole after serving 15 years.
Many of Lloyd's relatives were in court for the arraignment, but Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, had to step outside as the lurid and chilling details of her son's death were laid out by First Assistant District Attorney William McCauley.
McCauley described a killing borne out of a trip to a Boston nightclub on the night of June 14.
Hernandez and two friends picked up Lloyd at home at 2:30 a.m. on June 17, prosecutors said. Surveillance footage from Hernandez's home shows him leaving earlier with a gun. He also told someone in the house that he was upset and couldn't trust anyone anymore, prosecutors said.
After picking up Lloyd, Hernandez said he was upset with Lloyd because Lloyd had spoken with people Hernandez had trouble with during their outing to the nightclub three days earlier, prosecutors said.
After that conversation, Lloyd texted his sister, "Did you see who I am with," prosecutors said. When she asked who, he answered at 3:22 a.m., "NFL," then, a minute later, "Just so you know," prosecutors said.
Between 3:23 a.m. and 3:27 a.m., people working the overnight shift at the industrial park reported hearing gunshots, authorities said.
It's not clear who investigators believe fired the shots. Lloyd was shot multiple times in the back and chest, authorities said.
Soon after Hernandez' arrest at his North Attleboro home at 8:47 a.m. on Wednesday morning, the Patriots -- calling it "the right thing to do" -- announced via their Twitter account that they had released him.
“A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss," the Patriots said in a statement. "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.”
The NFL also weighed in several hours later:
"The involvement of an NFL player in a case of this nature is deeply troubling. The Patriots have released Aaron Hernandez, who will have his day in court. At the same time, we should not forget the young man who was the victim in this case and take this opportunity to extend our deepest sympathy to Odin Lloyd's family and friends."
According to Michelle Roberts of WBZ Radio, Hernandez gear is already off the shelves of the Patriots team store. The jerseys of other former Patriots -- Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Danny Woodhead -- are still available.
Hernandez, who signed a five-year contract extension last summer, has six years left on his deal and is due to be paid $39.768 million, with $16 million guaranteed. But Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reported earlier this week that if Hernandez were released, "the team likely would be able to recoup or avoid paying all but $2.5 million of the $12.5 million signing bonus (he gets to keep the $2.5 million portion from 2012). Hernandez also may have to forfeit $50,000 in signing bonus money he received up front from the rookie contract he signed in 2010. If Hernandez is released, the Patriots would get salary-cap relief for each year that he does not play — potentially from 2013-16. He has a salary-cap number of $4.073 million this year, and $4.2 million next year. But the formula for refunding the cap would be complex, and as another league source said, 'I don’t think anything like this has ever happened before.' ”
The investigation of Hernandez began a week ago yesterday, on June 18, one day after the body of Lloyd, a semipro football player, was found in an industrial park one mile from Hernandez's home. Police spent hours searching Hernandez's house on June 18, then went back several times over the course of the next week. In addition, they reportedly traveled to Providence to speak to the owners of a strip club Hernandez was known to frequent.
During this time period, a man in Florida -- claiming Hernandez shot him in the face -- filed a civil suit against the former Patriot. Hernandez also lost an endorsement contract with CytoSport because of the investigation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.