The defendant whom prosecutors have called the ”right-hand man” of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez pleaded not guilty Thursday to being an accessory to murder after the fact in connection with the death of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.
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Ernest Wallace appeared Thursday in Bristol Superior Court, speaking during his brief arraignment to tell the judge, ”Not guilty, your honor.”
Hernandez previously has pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge and weapons offenses in the same case and is in jail without bail.
A grand jury indicted Wallace last month. The 41-year-old from Bristol, Conn., previously pleaded not guilty to the same accessory charge in a district court and a different judge had ordered him held in lieu of $500,000 bail.
Authorities have alleged Wallace and another man were with Hernandez when Lloyd, a 27-year-old Boston man who was dating the sister of Hernandez’ girlfriend, was shot to death in June.
Police recovered Lloyd’s bullet-riddled body in a North Attleborough industrial park near Hernandez’s home after a jogger discovered the victim’s remains.
Authorities have said Wallace went to Florida after Lloyd’s death, but turned himself in after police issued a warrant for his arrest. He didn’t fight extradition to Massachusetts.
Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter said Thursday that the probe into Lloyd’s homicide remains ongoing, including authorities’ hunt for the gun used in his slaying. He said he expects more details of the evidence in the case against Wallace to come out during the defendant’s upcoming bail hearing.
Authorities have said Wallace and another Hernandez associate, Carlos Ortiz, were with the former NFL tight end during Lloyd’s slaying. Prosecutors have alleged that Hernandez was upset with Lloyd for talking to people at a nightclub a few days earlier with whom he’d had problems.
Bristol Superior Court Judge Frances McIntyre scheduled Wallace’s bail hearing for Sept. 26, and continued the terms of the defendant’s bail until then.
Wallace’s defense attorney, David Meier, asked Thursday to review grand jury minutes prior to his client’s bail hearing, which Sutter later said is routine.