Odin Lloyd's mother emotional at Aaron Hernandez trial

Odin Lloyd's mother emotional at Aaron Hernandez trial

Published Feb. 4, 2015 10:30 a.m. ET

FALL RIVER, Mass. – The fourth day of the Aaron Hernandez murder trial brought a battle over narratives – whether the NFL star was “good friends” with victim Odin Lloyd or merely knew him as his pot supplier.

And it brought a moment outside the jury’s presence that riveted people in the courtroom.

That moment came after Judge E. Susan Garsh sent the jury out of the courtroom and then had Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward, called to the stand. The purpose was for the judge to determine whether she would allow prosecutors to enter into evidence a photograph of Lloyd’s lifeless body taken in the morgue – and she had Assistant District Attorney William McCauley, the lead prosecutor in the case, lead Ward through the testimony he proposed to elicit.

McCauley had Ward describe going to the coroner’s office to identify her son’s body, and then he showed her a photograph of him in death. It captured Lloyd from the neck up. There was no blood.

Ward burst into tears, and that brought an admonition from the judge.

“It’s very, very important – I understand that this is very emotional for you – but it’s very important that you manage during this time you are testifying to retain control of your emotions and not to cry while you’re looking at any photo that may be shown to you,” Garsh said. “Do you understand that?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Ward answered.


The judge ultimately ruled over objections from Hernandez’s lawyers that the photograph could be shown to Ward in front of the jury but that it could not be “published” – in other words, passed among the jurors or displayed on television screens in the courtroom. She allowed it to be entered into evidence, which means the jurors will be able to look at it when they deliberate.

When the moment came before the jury, Ward calmly identified her son in the photograph. She did not break down.

Much of the rest of the day was devoted to the defense’s effort to portray Hernandez and Lloyd as “good friends” who often got together – and the prosecution’s effort to cast their relationship as merely that of two men tied together by the fact they were dating sisters and liked to smoke pot.

Prosecutors have alleged that Hernandez, then a star tight end for the New England Patriots, was angered with Lloyd after an incident at a nightclub. They have asserted that Hernandez summoned two associates from his hometown of Bristol, Conn., to his Massachusetts home late the night of June 16, 2013, and at the same time 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, where the 27-year-old semipro football player was gunned down.

The killing occurred shortly before 3:30 a.m. on June 17, 2013, according to court documents.

Lloyd’s girlfriend, Shaneah Jenkins, was on the witness stand for the third day – and faced cross-examination.

Her testimony drew a large crowd of spectators to the courtroom – her sister, Shayanna Jenkins, is engaged to Hernandez and has been accused by prosecutors of ditching the .45-caliber handgun used in the murder.

Shaneah Jenkins acknowledged that Lloyd supplied Hernandez with marijuana – even that he had a kit in a shoe-shine bag he used for rolling joints. She also acknowledged that she was given immunity from prosecution prior to testifying before a grand jury in the case. The immunity was granted because Jenkins often drove Lloyd to a barbershop and waited for him while he picked up marijuana.

But defense attorney Charles Rankin worked to show that Lloyd and Hernandez got together multiple times. He had Jenkins describe their first meeting, a Patriots preseason game in August 2012 – and the fact Lloyd and Hernandez smoked pot together hours later for the first time. Rankin also elicited testimony about other gatherings where Lloyd and Hernandez were both present.

There was a birthday party in October 2012. An outing to go bowling. Two nights they went to clubs – and later stayed over at Hernandez's home in North Attleboro. A trip to a restaurant and a movie in Connecticut. And multiple times when the two men disappeared into the basement of Hernandez's home.

“During those visits, a typical pattern would be that Aaron and Odin would hang out and you would hang out with your sister or other family members?” Rankin asked at one point.

“Yes,” Jenkins said.

“And some of the activities that Aaron and Odin would do is smoke marijuana?” Rankin asked.

“Correct,” Jenkins answered.

“And hang out?” Rankin asked.

“Correct,” Jenkins answered.

“Talking?” Rankin asked.

“I guess so,” Jenkins answered.

“Listening to music?” Rankin asked.

“Yeah,” Jenkins said.

Rankin sought to show that they liked being together, but his first question was halted by an objection. So he took a different tack.

“Did it appear to you they were enjoying each other’s company?” Rankin asked.

“Yes,” Jenkins said.

As she testified, her sister sat in the front row with members of Hernandez's family.

Later, McCauley worked just as hard to raise questions about the nature of Lloyd’s relationship with Hernandez during his questioning of Ward. Lloyd lived with his mother.

“Did you know any of Odin’s friends?” McCauley asked.

“Yes,” Ward answered.

“Did he ever have friends to the house?” McCauley asked.

“Yes,” Ward said.

She named a number of his friends by name. Hernandez was not among them.

“He had quite a few friends,” she said.

“Did you know Aaron Hernandez?” McCauley asked.

“No,” Ward answered.

“Had you ever met him before?” McCauley asked.

“No,” Ward answered.

“Had he ever come to your home?” McCauley asked.

“No,” Ward answered.

Hernandez faces one count of murder and two firearms charges in Lloyd's killing.

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.

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.​