Aaron Hernandez’s fiancee could get immunity to testify
A deal appears to be in the works to grant immunity to Aaron Hernandez’s fiancée – who has been accused of ditching the gun used to kill Odin Lloyd – so she can testify for the prosecution in the former football star’s upcoming murder trial.
Shayanna Jenkins and her attorney spent more than an hour in a closed-door hearing Wednesday morning to consider a petition to offer her immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony – a development that, if it is granted, could dramatically alter the course of the prosecution’s case against Hernandez. In Jenkins, they would have a witness they believe knows what happened to the .45-caliber Glock that was used in Lloyd’s murder.
The petition is sealed, and as of Wednesday afternoon Judge E. Susan Garsh had not signed an order that would grant Jenkins immunity.
A second order granting immunity to one of his cousins was signed by Judge Garsh.
Jenkins, 23, still lives in Hernandez’s North Attleboro mansion with their young daughter and has been a source of frustration for prosecutors – during her grand jury testimony in the case, they alleged that she lied in 29 separate statements.
Jenkins was indicted on a perjury charge, and that case has not been resolved. It is likely that the charge would be dropped if the judge signs the immunity order, but no action was taken on that front Wednesday.
Jenkins said nothing as she left the courtroom with her attorney, Janice Bassil, who also declined to answer questions from reporters.
A cousin of Hernandez’s, Jennifer Mercado, was granted immunity after a separate hearing Wednesday. She and her attorney, E. Peter Parker, declined to comment after they left the courtroom.
Hernandez, 25, faces one count of murder and two firearms charges in the June 17, 2013, killing of Lloyd, who was gunned down in a secluded field less than a mile from the player’s home.
Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-professional football player, was dating Shayanna Jenkins’ sister, Shaneah Jenkins.
Prosecutors have alleged that Hernandez summoned two associates from his hometown of Bristol, Conn., to his Massachusetts home late the night of June 16, 2013, and simultaneously made plans to meet with Lloyd. Hernandez then allegedly drove the other two men, Carlos Ortiz and Ernes Wallace Jr., to the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, picked up Lloyd, and returned to North Attleboro.
According to court documents, Hernandez allegedly drove into a secluded area in an industrial park that is surrounded by woods and mounds of asphalt, gravel and dirt. There, Lloyd was shot multiple times.
Although prosecutors have not said who they believe fired the fatal shots, they have asserted that Hernandez “orchestrated” the killing. Ortiz and Wallace have also been indicted on murder charges but will be tried separately. The prosecution does not plan to call either as a witness in the trial.
The process of picking a jury for Hernandez’s trial begins Friday and is expected to take more than a week.
From the beginning, the effort to locate the murder weapon has been a source of frustration for investigators, who know from shell casings found at the scene that the pistol that fired the fatal shots was a Glock.
According to court documents, images from Hernandez’s home surveillance system show him holding what is alleged to be a black handgun minutes after Lloyd was killed.
Prosecutors previously asserted that Jenkins repeatedly misled the grand jury about her actions the day after the murder, contending that she could not recall details.
According to previously released court documents, Hernandez sent a text message to Jenkins the day after Lloyd was killed.
It read: “Go in back of the screen in movie room when u get home an there is the box avielle likes to play with in the tub jus in case u were looking for it!!!! Member how u ruined that big tv lmao WAS JUST THINKIN bout that lol wink wink love u TTYL ….. K”.
Prosecutors have asserted that was a coded message directing Jenkins to get rid of the gun.
A short time later, prosecutors have alleged, Jenkins took a heavy object – such as a gun lock box – out of the home inside a trash bag, put it in the trunk of her sister’s car, and drove away. She was gone a little more than a half hour, and when she returned the trash bag and the object inside it were no longer in the car, according to court documents.
Her sister, Shaneah Jenkins, was later told by one of her uncles that Hernandez called Shayanna Jenkins, that she handed the phone to him and others and that Hernandez wanted “weapons taken out of the house.” The uncle would also tell Shaneah Jenkins that the weapons were ditched in “the woods.”
Investigators later found a .22-caliber Jiminez pistol a short distance from Hernandez’s home that court papers describe as looking as though it was tossed from a car.
The area where Hernandez’s home is located is adjacent to areas that are forested.
Prosecutors have also alleged that Shayanna Jenkins lied when she told the grand jury she did not know what happened to a white sweatshirt belonging to Hernandez. Previously released court documents have said Hernandez was wearing a “very light-colored or white hooded sweatshirt” at the time Lloyd was killed.
It is not clear what Mercado’s testimony might cover. Her sister, Tanya Singleton, was earlier convicted of contempt for refusing to testify before the grand jury and was sentenced to home confinement. Singleton also faces an unresolved charge of accessory after the fact to murder, accused of helping Wallace flee to Florida after Lloyd’s murder.
Hernandez has separately been indicted on multiple murder and assault charges in a July 16, 2012, shooting in South Boston that left two men dead and another wounded.
In the Boston killings, prosecutors have alleged that Hernandez became enraged after a man bumped him on a nightclub dance floor, spilling his drink, and failed to apologize. Later, they alleged that Hernandez followed the man and his friends as they drove away from the club, then pulled up next to their car at a stoplight and opened fire with a .38-caliber revolver, killing Daniel De Abreu, 29, and Safiro Furtado, 28, and wounding another man.
That trial was originally scheduled to begin May 28, but the judge there indicated recently he would push it back given the anticipated length of the trial in the Lloyd case. No new trial date has been set.