Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was formally charged with first degree murder in the death of a friend on Wednesday, hours after he was taken from his North Attleborough mansion in handcuffs.
Also on Wednesday, Connecticut police detained Carlos A. Ortiz near Bristol, CT on a fugitive from justice warrant.
Ortiz, 23, is believed to be one of two men who was with Hernandez the night semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd was shot to death in an industrial park about a mile from Hernandez’s home. Ortiz is being held on $1.5 million bond. His charges have not been released.
Lloyd, 27, was shot multiple times in the arms, head and chest. His body was found dumped on a secluded gravel road in an industrial park, police said.
Lloyd (pictured above right) played for the Boston Bandits semi-pro football league. He was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins.
On June 14, Hernandez partied with Lloyd and friends at a Boston nightclub called Rumor. On the night of June 16, Hernandez texted Carlos Ortiz and another friend from his hometown of Bristol, CT, and asked them to rush back to Massachusetts.
Surveillance video taken from one of 14 cameras around Hernandez’s home captured him leaving the mansion with a handgun. Hernandez’s fiancee, Jenkins, (pictured left) told investigators that Hernandez was upset and he couldn’t trust anyone anymore. Jenkins reportedly assisted with the investigation. Hernandez and Jenkins are the parents of a 7-month-old daughter.
Hernandez and the two men picked up Lloyd from his home around 2:30 a.m. Lloyd’s sister was at the home when the three men pulled up in Hernandez’s rental car. The men drove around and discussed what happened at Rumor nightclub.
Lloyd may have sensed that his life was in danger when he texted his sister at 3:07 a.m., “Did you see who I am with?” His sister texted back, “Who?,” before her phone battery died. According to LAlate.com, her phone was partially charged at 3:22 a.m. when she received another text from Lloyd: “NFL,” then, a minute later, a final text from her brother: “Just so you know.”
Around that time, prosecutor Bill McCauley said Hernandez “drove the victim to that remote spot, and then he orchestrated his execution.”
McCauley said Hernandez parked on the gravel road, exited the car and walked around to the passenger side where he shot Lloyd, first in the car and then several more times as Lloyd lay mortally wounded on the ground. Employees working the overnight shift at the industrial park reported hearing 5 gunshots.
Surveillance video from a nearby business shows the Altima driving toward the gravel road. The video didn’t capture the murder, but it did capture the Altima leaving the industrial park 4 minutes later.
Police say Hernandez “executed” Lloyd because his friend spoke to people with whom Hernandez had had “trouble” with in the past.
McCauley said Hernandez and his friends returned the car to the rental car agency. He offered a female employee a stick of blue chewing gum. Later, when the employee cleaned out the rental car she found a spent .45-caliber shell casing and a chewed wad of blue gum inside. She threw out the gum and the shell casing. Police later recovered the evidence from a trash bin. McCauley said the shell matches the casings found at the murder scene. The weapon has not been found.
Hernandez was ordered held without bond on first degree murder and weapons charges at a hearing Wednesday. Despite the preponderance of evidence, his attorney, Michael Fee, called the case circumstantial.
“It is at bottom a circumstantial case. It is not a strong case,” said Fee.
Hernandez’s fiancee attended the hearing, as did Lloyd’s family members who cried when the prosecutor described the murder.
A Florida man is suing Hernandez, who, he says shot him in the face back in February. Alexander Bradley, 36, said Hernandez shot him as he sat in a car after the two men left a Miami strip club. Bradley is partially blind and disfigured as a result of his injuries. Bradley refused to cooperate with investigators at the time and the case was dropped. He is seeking $100,000 in damages and attorney’s fees.
Less than 2 hours after Hernandez’s arrest on Wednesday, the Patriots cut the 23-year-old Pro Bowler from their roster. The former University of Florida standout player signed a five-year $40 million contract with the Patriots last Summer.
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