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Former New England Patriots tight end charged with murder

Aaron Hernandez, a former star tight end for the New England Patriots, was charged with murder on June 26 in Massachusetts court. Hernandez was arrested for the crime after several days of investigation into the murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd.

Lloyd’s body was found with a gunshot wound a week prior to Hernandez’s arrest. Lloyd and Hernandez were friends, and spotted at a Boston nightclub together a few days before Lloyd’s death.

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(CNN) — It was around 2:30 a.m. on Monday, June 17, when Odin Lloyd climbed into a silver Nissan Altima.

He had company.

Hours later, Lloyd was dead, shot with a .45-caliber firearm and later found lying in a gravel pit in the southeastern Massachusetts town of North Attleborough.

As of Friday afternoon, the three others who had been in the car with Lloyd early that Monday morning were in custody.

“We believe we have the three individuals,… and we’re very pleased about that,” Bristol County, Massachusetts, District Attorney Sam Sutter said.

Foremost among them — given his public prominence before Lloyd’s death and the charges against him after it — is Aaron Hernandez. He’d been a star tight end with the New England Patriots, at least until the team released him shortly after his arrest Wednesday.

The Bristol, Connecticut, native pleaded not guilty this week to a premeditated murder charge, among others.

“It is a circumstantial case. It is not a strong case,” his attorney Michael Fee said this week in court.

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The cloud over Hernandez doesn’t end there. A law enforcement source told CNN that Boston police are “very active” — and making progress — in trying to connect the dots that could link Hernandez to an unsolved drive-by shooting that left two people dead last summer in Boston’s South End.

The Boston Globe reports that the unsolved shooting deaths of two men might have played a role in the motive for Lloyd’s death. The newspaper quoted two law enforcement officials as saying Lloyd may have had information linking Hernandez to the shooting.

“The motive might have been that the victim knew (Hernandez) might have been involved,” the paper said, quoting one of the officials.

For now, prosecutors contend that something Lloyd may have done or said didn’t sit well with the NFL standout. Two days later, they allege, Hernandez rounded up some friends and orchestrated the hit, to settle the score.

On Wednesday, the same day authorities showed up at Hernandez’s door and took him away in a police car, 27-year-old Carlos Ortiz was similarly arrested in Bristol and charged as a fugitive from justice.

Ortiz was in a Massachusetts court on Friday. According to his lawyer, John Connors, Ortiz pleaded not guilty to a single charge of carrying a firearm without a license. That was related to an incident that allegedly took place in Massachusetts, though it was not immediately known if it had any connection with Lloyd’s killing or the double homicide in 2012.

He’ll remain behind bars until a hearing on July 9, at which time Connors said he plans to press a judge to set bail.

“Mr. Ortiz struck me as being a gentle person who is confused as to how he is in this situation,” Connors said following his first, brief meeting with his client Friday afternoon. “… We’re going to try and prove he’s not guilty.”

Ernest Wallace, meanwhile, turned himself in Friday in Miramar, Florida, nearly 1,500 miles away. Police there said, in a news release, that Wallace had seen news reports that an arrest warrant had been issued for him out of North Attleborough.

In fact, Massachusetts authorities had been in touch with their colleagues in Miramar — first to ask them to watch out “for a particular vehicle (then) about a day or two later, (to give them) a heads-up of the possibility of Ernest Wallace being in our city,” Miranda police spokeswoman Tania Rues said.

There’s no indication, however, that police expected Wallace to walk into the police station in Miramar , where his mother lives, and identify himself as a wanted man. While there were concerns he may be armed and dangerous, Wallace was taken into custody without incident, according to Rues.

“He invoked his right to counsel and really didn’t say much more after that,” she said, noting that Wallace could be arraigned as early as Saturday in a Florida court before his possible extradition to Massachusetts.

Lloyd’s last few hours

Why was Odin Lloyd killed? Prosecutors have alleged it had something to do with a run-in between him and Hernandez over the weekend.

The two met up at the popular Boston dance club, Rumor, according to Lloyd’s sister, Olivia Thibou.

Who was Odin Lloyd?

Then, in the predawn hours of June 17, Hernandez swung by in the rented Altima to pick up Lloyd — a semipro football player who also worked as a landscaper and was dating the sister of Hernandez’ s fiancee — at the latter’s Boston home, prosecutors say.

They stopped at a gas station and bought things inside. One purchase now sticks out as a potentially key piece of evidence: a pack of blue bubblegum.

Prosecutors say that cell phone towers nearby tracked the men’s movements. Lloyd had his phone on and texted his sister at 3:23 a.m., very likely minutes before his death.

“NFL. Just so you know,” he texted his sister to let her know who he was with.

About 3:25 a.m. — two minutes after the message — gunshots shattered the quiet night, according to witnesses.

Guns and bubblegum

Not five minutes passed before a surveillance camera captured video of Hernandez carrying a gun as he arrived back at his home, prosecutors say.

Police return to Hernandez’s home

He was with two other people. Lloyd was not among them.

A murder weapon is usually a key piece of evidence in a homicide case, and investigators have not been able to find one.

But Hernandez at least once had a Glock .45, prosecutors say, entering a cell phone photo into evidence of him posing in the mirror with it.

And police have seized .45-caliber ammunition and an ammunition magazine that were in a Hummer SUV he drove and a condo he rented.

Hernandez and the other two later took the car back to the rental company.

There, the defendant offered an attendant a piece of blue Bubblicious, prosecutors say.

What appeared to be a piece of chewed blue gum was left lying inside the vehicle, prosecutors say. Next to it was a spent .45-caliber casing.

The casing matches the empty shells Investigators recovered near Lloyd’s body, prosecutors say.

If that gum was in Hernandez’s mouth, DNA tests will connect him to the casings, prosecutors say.

When investigators inspected Lloyd’s body, they found keys in his pockets to a rental car registered in Hernandez’s name.

A fallen star

Hernandez had been expected to be one of the keys to the New England Patriots’ stellar offense, a vital cog on a team that many expected could contend for a Super Bowl title.

Now he’s sitting in a Massachusetts jail cell, the only person known to be charged directly in Lloyd’s death.

His stoic expression in videos after his arrest, including when he was in court, gave little indication of angst, sorrow or inner turmoil.

Yet the very fact he’s behind bars, charged with such a heinous crime, has shaken many in New England.

In an acknowledgment of this — and days after dumping Hernandez before he’d been charged with murder, much less convicted — the team said firing him was “simply the right thing to do.”

On Friday, the team took another step in cutting its ties to the former University of Florida star, and letting fans do the same. Having already taken his No. 81 off the shelves, the team announced that people who had already bought such a jersey could exchange it for free for another player’s at the New England Patriots ProShop the weekend of July 6 and 7.

“We know that children love wearing their Patriots jerseys, but may not understand why parents don’t want them wearing their Hernandez jerseys anymore,” team spokesman Stacey James said. “We hope this opportunity to exchange those jerseys … will be well received by parents.”

– By Susan Candiotti, Greg Botelho and Ben Brumfield, CNN/CNN’s Ross Levitt, Rande Iaboni and Kim Segal contributed to this report.

BOSTON — Something Odin Lloyd may have done or said didn’t sit well with NFL player Aaron Hernandez, prosecutors say.

Two days later, they allege, the football player rounded up some friends and settled the score.

Lloyd’s body was found at a Massachusetts gravel pit near Hernandez’s North Attleborough home in mid-June, according to investigators. He was fatally shot with a .45 caliber firearm.

Hernandez faces premeditated murder charges and has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors allege the former tight end with the New England Patriots orchestrated the hit and carried it out with another man.

The Patriots dismissed him from the team and ended his multimillion-dollar contract.

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Cell phone records and surveillance camera tapes will link him to the killing and retrace the final moments of Lloyd’s life in the wee hours of Monday, June 17, the prosecution says.

And a trail of blue bubblegum colorfully shows Hernandez’s path that night, according to prosecutors.

But the defense says the evidence does not add up.

“It is a circumstantial case. It is not a strong case,” defense attorney Michael Fee said.

Massachusetts State Police said they are seeking another man as an “accessory after the fact.”

Hernandez is also being investigated in connection with an unsolved 2012 double homicide case in Boston, a law enforcement source close to the investigation told CNN.

(CNN) — Aaron Hernandez, the former NFL tight end charged with murder in the death last week of an acquaintance, is now being investigated in connection with a double slaying in Boston’s South End in July 2012, a law enforcement source close to the investigation told CNN.

The source gave no indication whether there was any connection between that investigation and Hernandez’s current murder charge.

What is known is that the Boston Police Department has located and impounded a silver SUV with Rhode Island registration that police have been trying to find for almost a year, that’s linked to the scene of a double homicide in 2012, the source said.

Investigators believe that Hernandez was renting the SUV at the time of those killings, the source said.

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Hernandez, who was released by the New England Patriots on Wednesday after his arrest, will be back in a courtroom Thursday for a bail hearing.

Hernandez is scheduled to appear at Fall River, Massachusetts, Superior Court at 2 p.m. to appeal a judge’s decision to hold him without bail, the court magistrate said.

A second man arrested in connection with the killing of Odin Lloyd is also expected to appear before a judge.

Carlos Ortiz was arrested in Bristol, Connecticut, on Wednesday and will have an initial hearing in Attleboro, Massachusetts, District Court as early as Thursday, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.

Hernandez is accused in last week’s shooting death of Lloyd, whose body was found in an industrial park area less than a mile from Hernandez’s home.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Accusation of orchestrating murder

Hernandez “drove the victim to the remote spot, and then he orchestrated his execution,” First Assistant District Attorney Bill McCauley said in court Wednesday.

“He orchestrated the crime from the beginning, he took steps to conceal and destroy evidence, and he took steps to prevent the police from speaking to … an important witness,” the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney Michael Fee has said that the evidence is circumstantial and that bail should be granted so that Hernandez can return home to spend time with his fiancee and 8-month-old child.

“It is a circumstantial case. It is not a strong case,” Fee said, arguing that Hernandez was not a flight risk and had cooperated with authorities.

Lloyd, 27, was a semipro football player who worked for a landscape company. His sister, Olivia Thibou, told CNN last week that her brother was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. Lloyd and Hernandez were at a Boston nightclub together the night of June 14, she said.

A ‘model inmate’

During his first 24 hours in jail, Hernandez has been “polite and cooperative” and a “model inmate,” Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson said.

Hernandez was being held in the jail’s medical unit, which is standard for someone who hasn’t been incarcerated before, Hodgson said.

The former pro athlete showed “no apparent nervousness” in jail, Hodgson said, but he noted the difficulty of going from having thousands of people cheering for him to being “just a number.”

While in the medical unit, Hernandez will be locked up for 23 hours a day, with a break for a shower and phone calls, the sheriff said.

–Mariano Castillo, CNN/CNN’s Susan Candiotti, Stephanie Gallman, Alina Cho and Dana Garrett contributed to this report.

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was charged with first-degree murder Wednesday in the death of Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old acquaintance whose bullet-riddled body was found less than a mile from the football player’s home in North Attleborough, Mass.

Hernandez also faces five gun-related charges in connection with the case.

He entered a plea of not guilty to all the charges. He was denied bail.

The New England Patriots waived Hernandez just before his arrest at his home.

–Los Angeles Times 

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North Attleborough, Mass. – New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was handcuffed Wednesday morning and put into a police cruiser outside his home in North Attleborough, Massachusetts.

For the past several days, investigators have been searching the area near Hernandez’s home as they continued their investigation into the death of a man whose body was found less than a mile from the house.

Hernandez’s lawyer broke his silence Monday, saying his client has been subjected to “a relentless flood of rumors, misinformation and false reports,” including unsubstantiated accounts in some media outlets late last week that an arrest warrant had been issued in connection with the investigation.

On Wednesday, about half a dozen plainclothes police officers went to Hernandez’s house and then led him out in handcuffs. He was wearing a white T-shirt and shorts.

The nature of his being taken into custody remained unclear. He is likely to be transported to the police department, where he will be told what charges he faces, if any.

Authorities have been tight-lipped since 27-year-old Odin Lloyd’s body was found.

On Tuesday, a notice posted at the courthouse said all records relating to the investigation have been “impounded by order of the court.”

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The move seals all records related to the case, including search warrants.

Lloyd died of a gunshot wound, a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation said Thursday.

Lloyd’s sister, Olivia Thibou, told CNN that Lloyd and Hernandez were friends who were at a Boston nightclub together a few days before Lloyd’s death. She said her brother was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. She did not know when or how her brother and Hernandez met.

For more on this CNN Story, click here.

 By Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times

New England tight end Aaron Hernandez appears to be directly tied to the slaying of a 27-year-old man found in North Attleborough, Mass., according to a Boston television station report that cites an unnamed law enforcement official.

Hernandez has not been named as a suspect in the case, although police have visited his home twice in the past two days. According to the Boston Globe, his attorneys issued a statement saying they would not comment until the investigation is complete.

The Patriots have yet to comment on the situation.

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Police said Wednesday that the body found near Hernandez’s home Monday was that of Odin Lloyd of Dorchester, Mass., and that his death has been deemed a homicide.

According to the Fox 25 report, Hernandez, Lloyd, and two other men were in a Boston bar the night of the homicide, and the four left together at some point in a car driven by Hernandez. The report said this was confirmed by a text message sent by Lloyd to another friend, and that forensic evidence places a vehicle driven by Hernandez at one of the crime scenes.

Police said they are searching for a silver side-view mirror cover which is believed to have broken off a car between Dorchester and North Attleborough. They have not explained how the mirror relates to the case.

In a separate matter, Hernandez was accused in a federal lawsuit filed last week of shooting a man in the face in February after an argument at Tootside’s, a strip club in Miami.

aaronNORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass.Police have questioned New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez in connection with the discovery of a body found Monday less than 1 mile from his house, several published reports said Tuesday.

Multiple reports indicate Hernandez is not believed to be a suspect in the possible homicide, but that his name was linked to a rental car that police sought in connection with the body.

Several police cars were parked outside Hernandez’ home Tuesday night, the Sun Chronicle of Attleboro said.

State and local police have worked around the clock investigating the possible homicide of a 27-year-old Boston man and are following up leads, a Sun Chronicle source said.

The victim’s body was found around 5:30 p.m. Monday in the town’s industrial park by a jogger and may have been there for over a day, the source told the newspaper.

ABC News reported police called the dead man an “associate” of Hernandez. A rental vehicle was recovered near the scene, which led investigators to Hernandez, sources told ABC News.