Murder charge for Aaron Hernandez

Updated: June 28, 2013, 11:59 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

ATTLEBORO, Mass. -- Aaron Hernandez has been charged with murdering his friend after the two had a dispute during a trip to a nightclub.

Hernandez was arrested Wednesday and charged with the first-degree murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player whose body was found in an industrial park about a mile from the former New England Patriots tight end's home.

Hernandez, released by the Patriots less than two hours after his arrest, pleaded not guilty and has been ordered to be held without bail. He also faces five gun-related charges, which were revealed Wednesday afternoon in Attleboro District Court.

Lloyd's relatives said he was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancée, that the two men were friends and that the men were out together on the last night of Lloyd's life. Lloyd was shot multiple times in the back and chest, authorities said.

Hernandez, 23, also was charged with one count of carrying a firearm without a license, two counts of possessing a large-capacity firearm and two counts of possessing a firearm without an FID card. (An FID card is a firearms ID card and allows the holder to possess non-large-capacity rifles and shotguns in his or her home. It is not the same as a license to carry.)

Judge Daniel J. O'Shea ordered both prosecutors and Hernandez's defense attorneys to refrain from publicly commenting on the case.

"The reality is that this case is still an ongoing investigation," Bristol County District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter said. "Invariably it is in the best interest of an ongoing investigation for the district attorney's office not to comment."

Hernandez could get life without parole if convicted. He was transported to the Bristol County House of Correction and Jail in North Dartmouth, Mass.

"It is at bottom a circumstantial case. It is not a strong case," said Hernandez's attorney Michael Fee.

Hernandez will have a probable cause hearing July 24 at 9 a.m. ET.

Lloyd's family members cried and hugged in the courtroom as prosecutor Bill McCauley outlined the killing. Two relatives were so overcome with emotion that they had to leave the courtroom.

McCauley said the crime stemmed from a night out at a Boston club called Rumor on June 14. He said Hernandez was upset about certain things, including that Lloyd had talked to some people Hernandez "had troubles with."

Two days later, McCauley said, on the night of June 16, Hernandez texted two friends from out of state and asked them to hurry back to Massachusetts.

Surveillance footage from outside Hernandez's home showed him leaving with a gun, and he told someone in the house that he was upset and couldn't trust anyone anymore, the prosecutor said.

The three men picked up Lloyd at his home around 2:30 a.m., according to authorities. As they drove around, they discussed what happened at the nightclub, and Lloyd started getting nervous, McCauley said.

Lloyd texted his sister, "Did you see who I am with?" When she asked who, Lloyd answered, at 3:22 a.m., "NFL," then, a minute later, "Just so you know."

Within a few minutes after that, people working the overnight shift at the industrial park reported hearing gunshots, McCauley said.

Investigators did not specify who fired the shots and did not identify the two other people who were with Hernandez.

In arguing unsuccessfully for bail, Hernandez's attorney said the athlete is unlikely to flee, is a homeowner, and lives with his fiancée and an 8-month-old baby. He also said Hernandez had never been accused of a violent crime.

A man filed a lawsuit last week claiming Hernandez shot him after they argued at a strip club in February in Florida. However, no criminal charges were filed, and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deemed the case, which did not name Hernandez, inactive because the alleged victim refused to cooperate.

Hernandez was wearing a white V-neck T-shirt with his arms inside the shirt and behind his back as he was led from his sprawling North Attleborough home at approximately 8:45 a.m. Wednesday. He casually spit into some bushes on his way to a police cruiser.

At about 10:20 a.m. Wednesday, the Patriots announced they had released Hernandez and expressed sympathy to Lloyd's family and friends.

"Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation," the Patriots said in a statement. "We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do."

The NFL also released a statement Wednesday, saying Hernandez's arrest is "deeply troubling."

"The involvement of an NFL player in a case of this nature is deeply troubling," the league's statement said. "The Patriots have released Aaron Hernandez, who will have his day in court. At the same time, we should not forget the young man who was the victim in this case and take this opportunity to extend our deepest sympathy to Odin Lloyd's family and friends."

[+] EnlargeAaron Hernandez
George Rizer for The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesAaron Hernandez was arrested Wednesday morning at his home in North Attleborough, Mass., and charged with first-degree murder later in the day.

The Patriots drafted Hernandez, originally from Bristol, Conn., out of the University of Florida in 2010. Last summer, the team signed him to a five-year contract worth $40 million.

Hernandez is one of 28 NFL players arrested since this year's Super Bowl on Feb. 3, according to a database kept by U-T San Diego.

During the 2010 draft, one team said it wouldn't take Hernandez under any circumstances, and he wasn't selected until New England took him in the fourth round.

Afterward, Hernandez said he had failed a drug test in college -- reportedly for marijuana -- and was up front with teams about it.

The Boston Globe also reported Hernandez lost his temper and threatened a teammate during an argument in the team's weight room shortly after he was drafted.

Hernandez became a father Nov. 6 and said he intended to change his ways: "Now, another one is looking up to me. I can't just be young and reckless Aaron no more. I'm going to try to do the right things."

ESPNBoston.com's Mike Rodak and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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