Things to know about trial of ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) Jury selection continues this week in the murder trial of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. He has pleaded not guilty in the June 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd, a semiprofessional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. Here are some things to know about the trial:
Bristol County Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh is questioning individual jurors, excusing those with a personal hardship, those who show bias or others who show a valid reason to be dismissed. Garsh is conducting the questioning out of the public’s hearing, so it’s not known why she is excusing some and keeping others in the pool.
Once the court has found a few dozen potential qualified jurors, it will allow lawyers on each side to excuse 18 without giving a reason. The process will be over once they’ve seated 18 jurors. Six will be alternates, but they won’t know who’s who until immediately before deliberations begin.
The trial is being held at the Fall River Justice Center, and Judge Garsh has banned all sports logos from the courthouse during the trial. At the security check-in, people are repeatedly turned away for wearing jackets, hats and jerseys bearing Patriots or other team logos.
Only a handful of members of the public have so far attended any of the trial hearings so far, but that could change once the trial begins in earnest with opening statements and witnesses.
Security outside is heavier than usual, and Fall River police have a visible and constant presence on the sidewalks around the building.
THE SUPER BOWL
The AFC champion Patriots are now preparing to play the Seattle Seahawks in the Feb. 1 Super Bowl, but coach Bill Belichick, team owner Robert Kraft and other members of the Patriots organization may also soon be preparing to testify. Prosecutors have listed them as potential witnesses.
There’s no indication that Belichick – if he’s called to the stand – would be asked to appear before the Super Bowl.
Hernandez was with the Patriots the last time they were in the Super Bowl, in 2012.
It’s still not known what became of a petition prosecutors made to the judge asking that Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, be granted immunity to testify.
Jenkins has been accused of lying to a grand jury about where she disposed of a box from their home, her knowledge of guns in their home and other issues. She has pleaded not guilty to perjury.
She and Hernandez have a child together, and she has been seen at several of his pre-trial hearings.
Also pending are prosecutors’ request that they be allowed to call a Hernandez friend who says Hernandez owned a gun similar to the murder weapon. There is also a pending request from Hernandez’s lawyers that they be allowed to call an expert on the drug PCP, because his two co-defendants were allegedly seen smoking it two days before the killing.
THE OTHER CASE
The Fall River trial is not the end of Hernandez’s legal saga. He faces separate murder charges in Boston, where he is accused of killing two men after one of them accidentally spilled a drink on him at a nightclub in 2012. The trial date in that case has not yet been set.