FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Aaron Hernandez’s attorneys on Monday sought to have a murder charge dismissed, saying prosecutors don’t have enough evidence to tie the former New England Patriots’ star to the murder of a semi-professional football player.
Prosecutors countered that they can show Hernandez was with Odin Lloyd when he was shot and that Lloyd’s killing was part of a pattern of Hernandez committing acts of violence following nightclub disputes.
Also Monday, the former tight end pleaded not guilty to charges that he attacked a handcuffed inmate and threatened to kill a guard and his family while at a county jail in Dartmouth.
Hernandez faces murder charges in Lloyd’s June 17, 2013, slaying, as well as a separate case in which he is accused of gunning down two men in Boston in July 2012. He has pleaded not guilty in each case and is being held without bail.
Judge E. Susan Garsh will rule at a later date on the motions to dismiss the Lloyd murder charge and to suppress certain evidence gathered by the state, including cellphone records and surveillance video from dozens of cameras at Hernandez’s North Attleborough home.
The judge on Monday also floated a possible trial date of Oct. 6, and she set a July deadline for the New England Patriots to respond to the defense’s requests for access to the football team’s personnel records.
Hernandez defense attorney James Sultan called the prosecution’s evidence “woefully lacking” and maintained that the state has yet to suggest a specific motive for Lloyd’s killing.
“There’s certainly a lot of what I would call smoke. No doubt about it,” Sultan said. “But you can’t throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and say, ‘Well, that’s good enough.’ That’s not probable cause that he committed the crime.”
Prosecutor William McCauley countered that the state has “powerful” evidence against Hernandez.
In what amounted to a preview of the state’s arguments, he said toll booth, surveillance, GPS and cellphone records clearly place Hernandez in the car with Lloyd at the time of his murder.
McCauley said the state’s evidence also shows Hernandez had the “presence, knowledge and intent” to see the murder to its completion.
Prosecutors also suggested incidents in Boston, Providence and Miami show a “common pattern” of violence by Hernandez following disputes at nightclubs.
But Hernandez’s lawyers pushed back against that notion, saying it was part of a persistent attempt to trash Hernandez’s character. They criticized prosecutors for their focus on his “affinity for guns,” his drug use and past run-ins with law enforcement.
Lloyd had been at a Boston nightclub with Hernandez and others days before his bullet-ridden body was found about a half mile from Hernandez’s North Attleborough home.
Prosecutors in Boston have said a spilled drink in a nightclub led Hernandez to kill two people in a drive-by shooting.
Another Hernandez associate, Alexander Bradley, has filed a civil lawsuit alleging Hernandez shot him in the face on Feb. 13, 2013, after they argued following a visit to a Miami strip club.
Dressed in a blue blazer and khaki dress pants, Hernandez sat passively through Monday’s nearly three-hour court hearing, one of the longest since his arrest last year.
His mother and other supporters sat in the audience, as did Lloyd’s mother and others.