Prosecutors want to use genetic testing in Hernandez case
Prosecutors on Friday asked for a court order to conduct genetic testing in one of the murder cases facing former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.
In the new court filing, prosecutors said they have genetic material recovered from the hand of Odin Lloyd, the victim in the 2013 shooting, and from guns and ammunition recovered by investigators. They want to test it to see if they get a DNA match from any of the samples.
The genetic samples are small, according to the court filing, and would likely be consumed by the testing process. For that reason, prosecutors want to break from normal protocol, which is to divide a genetic sample in half and allow the defense to conduct its own test.
“Here, the entire sample may be consumed in the testing and not be available for the subsequent testing,” Assistant District Attorney Patrick Bomberg wrote in his motion.
Prosecutors earlier sought Hernandez’s permission to go ahead with the testing, but he refused to consent. Now prosecutors want a judge to order the testing – and to give Hernandez the right to have his own expert present “to observe and confirm the appropriate handling of the material during the testing.”
Hernandez is scheduled to go on trial in Lloyd’s slaying next January.
He separately faces murder and assault charges in a 2012 shooting in Boston that left two men dead and another wounded.
The presence of DNA in a sample taken from Lloyd’s hand could dramatically alter the course of the case.
Two other men – Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace Jr. – are alleged to have been present with Hernandez when Lloyd was killed and have both also been charged with murder. Under a Massachusetts legal doctrine known as “joint venture,” a person can be convicted of murder even if someone else committed the actual killing as long as he or she participated in the crime in a significant way.
In this case, prosecutors have not divulged their theory of the crime, including who they think fired multiple shots from a .45-caliber pistol, killing Lloyd. They don’t have to make that known until they are standing before a jury.
However, if the genetic material recovered from Lloyd’s hand were to match any of the three suspects, it could significantly alter the way prosecutors approach the case.
In addition to the sample recovered from Lloyd’s hand, prosecutors want to conduct DNA testing on a pistol found near Hernandez’s home as well as a rifle and ammunition recovered from his mansion, from an apartment he rented and from a Hummer registered in his name.
Prosecutors have alleged that Hernandez, upset with Lloyd after a trip to a night club, summoned Ortiz and Wallace from his hometown of Bristol, Conn., to meet him at his North Attleboro home. At the same time, they have alleged he was making arrangements to pick up Lloyd in Boston. According to court documents, investigators believe Hernandez, Ortiz and Wallace then drove to the Dorchester section of Boston, picked up Lloyd and then drove him back to North Attleboro.
There, Lloyd was shot and killed in a deserted section of an industrial park used to store construction materials, like asphalt and gravel.
Hernandez is separately facing murder and assault charges in the 2012 killings of Daniel de Abreu, 29, and Safiro Furtado, 28.
In that case, prosecutors have alleged that Hernandez gunned down the two men and wounded a third after a dispute at a night club that allegedly began when de Abreu allegedly bumped the player on a dance floor and spilled his drink.
Weeks after that killing, Hernandez signed a contract extension with the New England Patriots that was worth an estimated $40 million.
Following his arrest in Lloyd’s killing on June 26, 2013, the Patriots cut the one-time Pro Bowl player.