Testimony continues about possible murder weapon in Hernandez trial
Another of Aaron Hernandez’s former housekeepers took the stand Tuesday, testifying that she saw the former NFL star’s fiancée carrying a black trash bag the day after Odin Lloyd’s murder.
That description fits with the assertion of prosecutors that the day after Lloyd’s death Shayanna Jenkins spirited the murder weapon out of the home she shared with Hernandez.
Carla Barbosa, a native of Brazil who testified through a Portuguese interpreter, described seeing Shayanna Jenkins carrying the bag out of Hernandez’s home in North Attleboro, Mass., and placing it the trunk of a red car.
“It was a black trash bag,” interpreter Arlene Kelly said as she repeated Barbosa’s answer in English.
Prosecutor William McCauley asked Barbosa how Jenkins was carrying the bag.
“Held close to her,” the interpreter said. “She had her arms around it.”
The incident, Barbosa testified, occurred early the afternoon of June 18, 2013. That is the day after Lloyd’s bullet-riddled body was discovered in a secluded field less than a mile from Hernandez’s home.
The testimony is potentially important because prosecutors have alleged that Jenkins, acting on Hernandez’s orders, spirited a lockbox out of the home inside a black trash bag. Prosecutors have suggested the box, described in court papers as obviously heavy and rigid, contained the Glock pistol that was used to kill Lloyd — a gun that has never been found.
Jurors ultimately saw three video clips Tuesday of Jenkins carrying that bag out of the house and to the car.
And they heard Barbosa describe Jenkins’ demeanor after she later returned home without the bag.
“I saw her speaking on the telephone, I saw her looking out the window, I saw she was crying, she was nervous and she was walking back and forth,” Barbosa said.
Hernandez, a former New England Patriots star tight end, faces one count of murder and two firearms charges in the slaying of Lloyd, who was gunned down in a secluded field used to store dirt, asphalt and gravel. Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-professional football player, was dating Shaneah Jenkins, sister of Hernandez’s fiancée.
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 Ernest Wallace Jr., to the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, picked up Lloyd and returned to North Attleboro.
According to court documents, Hernandez allegedly drove into the field at 3:23 a.m. on June 17, 2013. There, Lloyd was shot multiple times a few minutes later, according to prosecutors.
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 witnesses in the trial.
The testimony of the housekeeper underscored a theme prosecutors began stressing the previous day.
Although two housekeepers initially testified primarily described seeing multiple handguns in Hernandez’s home — both said they saw a large pistol that was black or dark gray — McCauley also elicited testimony about how they were paid the day after Lloyd’s death. The woman who supervised the cleaners testified the payment was issued by check – and a copy of a $300 check, written by Jenkins, was shown to jurors.
The implication of that check was not made clear by McCauley. But it contradicts testimony from Shaneah Jenkins that her sister borrowed her car that afternoon, saying that she needed to get money to pay the housekeepers.
It was while Shayanna Jenkins was gone in her sister’s car — an absence of a little more than 30 minutes — that prosecutors allege she got rid of the gun.
Jenkins has been indicted on a single count of perjury on the allegation that she lied 29 times when she testified before a grand jury about her actions the day after Lloyd’s death, and about her knowledge of what happened to some of Hernandez’s clothing and other items.
Prosecutors have obtained an immunity order for Jenkins and intend to call her as a witness. The order means she cannot exercise her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refuse to answer questions on the witness stand, and will face the prospect of a contempt charge and a jail term if she won’t answer questions.
What isn’t known is whether she has reached an agreement with prosecutors to testify.
She had been a regular presence in the courtroom in both the trial and in hearings before it began. But Tuesday was the fifth consecutive day that she was not present.
Defense attorney Michael Fee, in cross-examining Barbosa, elicited testimony that her own vehicle and the red car were the only automobiles present when she saw Jenkins carrying the bag. Barbosa also acknowledged that she never saw what was in the bag, that Jenkins didn’t do anything to shield herself and that she never saw any guns in the home.
But he also asked her if the bag appeared to weigh more than 1 kilogram — a little more than 2 pounds. Barbosa said it did — and she said after a follow-up question that it appeared to weigh more than 2 kilograms.
A day earlier, one of the housekeepers had estimated the black handgun she saw weighed about 1 kilogram. According to specifications on Glock’s website, the gun prosecutors allege was used to kill Lloyd weighs a little more than 1 kilogram when fully loaded.
Following Fee’s questions about the weight, McCauley played video from Hernandez’s home security system showing Jenkins carrying the trash bag from the home. The images came from three different angles, and she appeared to struggle with the large, bulky bag.
Tuesday also saw testimony on several other topics:
• A crime scene technician testified that he found no blood on the outside or inside of the Nissan Altima that detectives allege was used in the killing. The vehicle, which had been rented to Hernandez, was cleaned by an Enterprise Rent-A-Car manager before detectives took possession of it. That same technician acknowledged on cross-examination that he failed a proficiency test in 2012 on testing of hair.
• The same technician tested for gunshot residue inside the Altima, but he did not test the samples, and the results haven’t yet been revealed.
• A civilian criminologist showed jurors a piece of material cut from a mattress in Hernandez’s guest bedroom. Prosecutors allege that impressions on the mattress were left by a pistol — one of the guns described by a housekeeper.
• A trainer who was scheduled to work with Hernandez the day of the murder said the player broke the appointment in a series of apologetic text messages.
Testimony is expected to continue for several more weeks.
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. They alleged that Hernandez later 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 originally was 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.