Two associates of Aaron Hernandez indicted in Odin Lloyd murder case
A grand jury on Friday indicted two of former football star Aaron Hernandez’s associates in last summer’s murder of Odin Lloyd.
The new indictment does not alter the murder or weapons charges already pending against Hernandez, a former Pro Bowl tight end for the New England Patriots who has been held without bail since his arrest last June 26.
Ernest Wallace Jr., 42, and Carlos Ortiz, 28, had both already been charged as accessories in Lloyd’s killing in a North Attleboro, Mass., industrial park. Those charges remain, but the indictment means they also are charged with Lloyd’s killing.
Wallace and Ortiz also are being held without bail. More details of the basis for the new charges should be disclosed when they are arraigned in Fall River, Mass., at a later date.
Prosecutors have alleged that Hernandez, angered at Lloyd after a trip to a nightclub several days earlier, summoned Wallace and Ortiz from his hometown of Bristol, Conn., to his mansion in North Attleboro late last June 16. They also have alleged that Hernandez contacted Lloyd and asked him to go out that night.
After Wallace and Ortiz arrived at Hernandez’s home, the three of them allegedly drove to the Dorchester section of South Boston, picked up Lloyd and returned to North Attleboro. Prosecutors have alleged that there, early the morning of June 17, Hernandez drove into a secluded field and that Lloyd was then murdered.
Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-pro football player, was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins. His body was discovered the next day by a jogger.
Under Massachusetts law, a person does not have to be the actual killer to be charged with murder. Instead, a legal doctrine known as "joint venture" makes associates who are involved in a killing susceptible to the same charge as the person who carried out the killing.
Prosecutors have indicated in prior court appearances that they believed Hernandez actually orchestrated the killing. However, prosecutors do not have to disclose their theory of the crime - their belief about who did what - until they get to trial.
Prosecutors based many of their early allegations about the crime on statements made by Ortiz. He initially told them that he stayed in the car at the murder scene and that Hernandez, Wallace and Lloyd got out. At that point, he had claimed, he heard gunshots and only Hernandez and Wallace got back into the car.
However, it quickly became apparent that Ortiz’s credibility would be an issue.
First, as FOX Sports first reported in early September, the presence of a white towel that was discovered on the ground near Lloyd’s body opened the door for defense attorneys to attack Ortiz’s credibility by questioning whether he was telling the truth when he insisted he never got out of the car at the murder scene. Here’s why: A surveillance camera image from a gas station, snapped about 90 minutes before Lloyd was killed, showed Ortiz with a light-colored towel draped around his neck.
And then, in a hearing a few weeks later, prosecutors acknowledged that Ortiz had changed key parts of his story. After initially claiming he never got out of the car at the murder scene, and that Wallace did, Ortiz said Wallace may have stayed in the vehicle. That and other discrepancies in his statements to investigators led prosecutors to file court documents in which they descried Ortiz as "completely unreliable" as a possible witness.
Two others have also been charged in Lloyd’s killing.
Tanya Singleton, 38, faces charges of conspiracy to commit accessory after the fact to murder for allegedly helping Wallace flee to Florida as well as contempt for refusing to testify before the grand jury investigating Lloyd’s death. Singleton is Hernandez’s cousin.
And Jenkins, the former player’s fiancée and the mother of his 17-month-old daughter, has been charged with perjury. She has been accused of lying in her grand jury testimony at least 29 times, according to court documents.
Hernandez is also the subject of an ongoing grand jury investigation in Boston into a July 2012 drive-by shooting in which two men were killed and another was wounded. A Toyota 4Runner that investigators believe was used in that shooting was discovered parked in the garage of a Bristol home owned by Hernandez’s uncle.
And Hernandez is the subject of a federal lawsuit filed in Florida by a man named Alexander Bradley, who alleged that Hernandez shot him in the face after a dispute at a nightclub in February 2013. That case is on hold â Bradley has since been jailed after he allegedly fired a gun into a Connecticut nightclub after a dispute there.
Court documents unsealed in Connecticut have made it clear that investigators believe Bradley was with Hernandez the night the two men were killed in Boston. And they also suggested that those shootings may be tied to Lloyd’s killing.