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Patriots’ Hernandez accused of murder

By Charlie Romanow

Section: Sports

August 23, 2013

Former New England Patriots Pro Bowler Aaron Hernandez was arrested at his home in North Attleborough, Mass., on June 26 and subsequently charged with murder. The arrest followed an investigation into the June 17 death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, an employee of a landscaping company and semi-professional football player for the Boston Bandits.

Lloyd’s remains were found in a gravel pit in an industrial park less than one mile from Hernandez’s suburban home. Keys to a car that Hernandez rented were found in Lloyd’s pocket. Lloyd, a resident of Dorchester, Mass., was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancé.

Hernandez’s history of criminal activity throughout his high school days in Bristol, Conn., and college career in Florida were likely the fuel that ignited the fire behind the orchestrated execution.

An unsolved double homicide took place last summer in Boston’s South End that is now believed to be connected to Hernandez. Police believe Lloyd may have been aware of the event. The two men had been out earlier on June 14 at Rumor, a club in Boston. A few days before his death, Lloyd had spoken to some people who were not on good terms with Hernandez; this may have angered the NFL player.

Hernandez and two friends, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, reportedly left Lloyd’s home at 2:30 a.m. on June 17 and headed to North Attleborough. Ortiz and Wallace each have prior criminal offenses.

While in custody, Ortiz has claimed that Wallace told him that Hernandez fired the shots. Ortiz had fallen asleep in the car before Hernandez, Lloyd and Wallace exited the vehicle. Shots were then heard by Ortiz and bystanders between 3:22 a.m. and 3:27 a.m. Hernandez and Wallace then returned to the vehicle without Lloyd and the three men drove to Hernandez’s home.

Personal surveillance cameras show Hernandez and one other man carrying a gun, although the weapon used for the murder has not yet been found. Footage from the six to eight hours after the crime was erased. The available footage shows Hernandez walking to and from his basement multiple times. Lloyd texted his sister at 3:23 a.m. informing her that he was with Hernandez, possibly moments before he was shot.

The rented car used by the men was later returned and found to contain empty shell casings that match those of the .45 caliber found near Lloyd’s body as well as his fingerprints. Additional .45 caliber ammunition was found in Hernandez’s SUV and in an apartment he leased in nearby Franklin, Mass. The SUV is believed to be linked to the double homicide last summer. In the Franklin apartment, police found the white hooded sweatshirt and hat that Hernandez had been seen wearing at Rumor.

Recent documents state that after returning to his home, Hernandez put his guns into a black lock box in his basement. His fiancé, Shayanna Jenkins, was seen taking an empty trash bag down to the basement and returned with something in it before borrowing her sister’s car and then returning without the bag an hour later.

When approached by police officers at his home the following day, Hernandez was unaffected. On Aug. 19, a gun was confirmed to be found in a woman’s car after a crash in Longmeadow, Mass., that is believed to be have been used in last year’s double homicide.

A locked safe box found in the vehicle may hold more clues to the murder of Odin Lloyd. Jailene Diaz-Ramos, the driver of the vehicle, has a Bristol, Conn., address, which is also Hernandez’s hometown. She told the police that the items were left in the car after she gave a ride to some people that she did not know, but described as football players.

Twenty-three-year-old Hernandez won a national championship with the University of Florida and compiled 18 touchdowns, 175 receptions and nearly 2,000 yards in his brief three-year stint with the pass-heavy Patriots. Questions about the young star have surrounded him since his high school years. The pre-draft screening for all draftees had marked Hernandez with the lowest possible score for “social maturity,” and indicated that he liked to “live on the edge of acceptable behavior.” While these factors may have been a red flag for the team’s drafting decision, the recent discoveries could not have been expected.

The Patriots released Hernandez from his five-year, $40 million contract after his arrest. Wallace is currently charged with accessory to murder after the fact and Ortiz is charged with a weapons charge. Investigations continue in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

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