Hernandez pleads not guilty to all charges

Hernandez pleads not guilty to all charges
September 6, 2013, 2:15 pm
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FALL RIVER, Mass. – Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was back in court Friday afternoon. In Bristol Superior Court, Hernandez stated “Not guilty” six times during his arraignment on first-degree murder and five weapons charges.
 
Hernandez is charged in the June 17 killing of his friend Odin Lloyd, the former semi-pro football player whose body was found with five bullet wounds in an industrial park about a mile from Hernandez’s North Attleborough, Mass., home.
 
Hernandez has been held without bail since he was arrested at his home on June 26. His lawyers did not ask for bail during his Friday arraignment, although they may at some point in the future. The two sides will be back in court on Oct. 9.
 
If convicted, Hernandez faces the possibility of a life sentence.
 
Friday’s arraignment lasted just over 10 minutes. Hernandez, who wore a blue suit jacket and white button-down shirt without a tie, stood during the proceeding.
 
Members of Lloyd’s family, including his mother and girlfriend, sat on one side of the courtroom. Most wore purple shirts bearing buttons with photos of Lloyd.
 
Just across the courtroom aisle were members of Hernandez’s family, including his fiancé and mother. Two members of Hernandez’s contingent wore his football jerseys.
 
Before the arraignment began, Judge Frances McIntyre addressed those in attendance, stressing the need to maintain decorum in the courtroom.  There were no outbursts.
 
After Friday’s arraignment, which lasted just over 10 minutes, attorneys for both sides addressed the media outside the court building.
 
Defense attorney Charles Rankin gave a brief statement without taking questions.
 
“In a sense this is like the opening kick-off and we have a long way to go before the trial,” Ranking said. “We’re confident that at the end of the trial Aaron will be exonerated. As we explained in [hearings] before Judge McIntyre we are not going to try the case in the media and we would encourage everyone to keep an open mind.
 
“Not one shred of evidence has been presented yet and we feel confident that when evidence is finally presented in a court of law that Aaron will be exonerated. Unnamed sources quoted in the media are not authoritative. They can’t be questioned, they can’t be cross-examined, they’re not reliable.
 
“So, at the end of the day, we’re confident that Aaron is going to be exonerated and we look forward to that process. In the meantime we would encourage people to keep an open mind, let the lawyers and the justice system do its job and we’ll see you in another month.”
 
Bristol County district attorney Sam Sutter said he is confident in the prosecution’s evidence.
 
“Everybody here heard two bail arguments on successive days on June 26 and June 27,” Sutter said. “Over 500 pages of documents have been released to the press and the public. 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.”
 
Hernandez is also linked to other on-going investigations in Connecticut and Florida, as well as an investigation into a double murder in Boston in July 2012. The issue of preserving evidence in the other jurisdictions was addressed during Friday’s arraignment.
 
“The issue was to what extent can we mandate that Connecticut or Florida or some other agency outside Massachusetts preserve evidence,” Sutter said. “And I think essentially what the judge said was, I understand, she said she understands, that we can’t mandate it but that we’re expected to do everything we can to make sure that it’s done and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
 
“Precisely what is being held in Connecticut and what is being held in Florida, that’s available to the public to some extent. We certainly will be in touch with authorities there forthwith to tell them don’t disturb anything, preserve everything.”
 
Asked why he thought the defense did not ask for bail, Sutter replied:
 
“Well, you’d have to ask them, but if you saw the last two bail hearings, the hearing in Attleborough on June 26 and the hearing here the very next day, we were able to present on those occasions very detailed presentations of our evidence. Perhaps they didn’t want to hear that again or hear what we have acquired since June 27. That would be my speculation.”
 
Sutter said he would oppose bail for Hernandez at any point in the process.
 
“Absolutely,” Sutter said. “Yes, we want to see Mr. Hernandez held without bail, without any doubt.”
 
Sutter would not address whether or not the murder weapon, believed to be a .45-caliber handgun, had been found.
 
“I’m not going to comment on that at this time,” he said. “That would be commenting on the evidence. So that I’m not going to do. But the investigation continues, as you can see, and continues rapidly.”
 
Sutter said he has been impressed with how Lloyd’s family has held up throughout the process.
 
“I think they’re doing remarkably well considering just about 70 days ago they lost somebody who was obviously beloved,” he said. “I saw a piece last night. He was a really fine young man. And I think that their show of support for him, the way that they come to every hearing, and the manner in which they conduct themselves, I’ve been extremely impressed, as impressed as I have almost ever been by a victim’s family.”
 
Sutter is hoping the case will proceed to trial quickly, but cautioned it can be a lengthy process.
 
“The process hasn’t been going on very long right now,” he said. “It’s only been a little over two months. I think [Lloyd’s family is] very anxious for this to go to trial. I hope they understand sometimes in Massachusetts it can take as long as two years, sometimes even beyond that if there’s a pretrial motion, which is appeal, goes up to the supreme judicial court. It can get beyond two years. But I think that we on the prosecution’s side are hoping for an early trial. We’d like to see this case tried within one year. Ideally, the defense would like to see the same thing. I’m not sure.”