Texts, video cited in charges against Hernandez

MICHELLE R. SMITH, Associated Press
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(AP PHOTO)

(AP PHOTO)

ATTLEBORO, Mass. (AP) — In the final minutes of his life, Odin Lloyd sent a series of texts to his sister.

“Did you see who I was with?” said the first, at 3:07 a.m. June 17. “Who?” she finally replied.

“NFL,” he texted back, then added: “Just so you know.”

It was 3:23 a.m. Moments later, Lloyd would be dead in what a prosecutor called an execution-style shooting orchestrated by New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez because his friend talked to the wrong people at a nightclub. Hernandez was charged Wednesday with murder and could face life in prison, if convicted.

Hernandez was cut from the NFL team less than two hours after he was arrested and led from his North Attleborough home in handcuffs, and nine days after Lloyd’s body was discovered by a jogger in a remote area of an industrial park not far from Hernandez’s home. The 2011 Pro Bowl selection had signed a five-year contract last summer with the Patriots worth $40 million.

His attorney, Michael Fee, called the case circumstantial during a Wednesday court hearing packed with reporters, curiosity seekers and police officers. Fee said there was a “rather hysterical atmosphere” surrounding the case and urged the judge to disregard his client’s celebrity status as he asked for Hernandez, 23, to be released on bail.

The judge, though, ordered Hernandez held without bail on the murder charge and five weapons counts.

Another man, Carlos Ortiz, 27, was arrested Wednesday in Hernandez’s hometown of Bristol, Conn., as part of the murder investigation, New Britain State’s Attorney Brian Preleski said Thursday. Ortiz was charged as a fugitive from justice and waived extradition to Massachusetts. Prison records show he is being held on $1.5 million bail at a Hartford jail.

Ortiz’s public defender, Alfonzo Sirica, declined to comment about the case.

Hernandez was scheduled to appear at a bail review hearing Thursday afternoon in Fall River, according to Bernie Sullivan, spokesman for the Bristol County sheriff.

In the meantime, police have been searching a third-floor unit in a condo complex in Franklin, Mass., that Hernandez had visited in recent weeks, according to the unit’s next-door neighbor.

Condo resident Carol Bailey said that starting Wednesday and continuing Thursday, police removed items from the modest, two-bedroom rental unit and asked her questions about its occupants. She said a new tenant told her in May that he was moving in with his cousin, and she realized later that the second man he had referred to that way was the Patriots player.

“I thought, ‘This is Aaron Hernandez. He’s renting a place here so he can have some peace and quiet,’” the retiree said Thursday.

The Ledgewood Condominiums resident said she didn’t see the two men often, but Hernandez always had a hoodie pulled up when she saw him.

“I think all of us who recognized who it was didn’t want to invade his privacy,” she said of neighbors.

On Wednesday, Hernandez stood impassively with his hands cuffed in front of him as Bristol County Assistant District Attorney Bill McCauley laid out a detailed timeline of the events, cobbled together from sources including witnesses, surveillance video, text messages and data from cellphone towers.

Lloyd, 27, a semi-pro football player with the Boston Bandits, had known Hernandez for about a year and was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee, the mother of Hernandez’s 8-month-old baby, McCauley said.

On June 14, Lloyd went with Hernandez to the Boston nightclub Rumor. McCauley said Hernandez was upset Lloyd had talked to people there with whom Hernandez had trouble. He did not elaborate.

Two days later, McCauley said, Hernandez texted two unidentified friends and asked them to hurry to Massachusetts from Connecticut. At 9:05 p.m., a few minutes after the first message to his friends, Hernandez texted Lloyd to tell him he wanted to get together, McCauley said.

Later, surveillance footage from Hernandez’s home showed his friends arrive and go inside. Hernandez, holding a gun, then told someone in the house he was upset and couldn’t trust anyone anymore, the prosecutor said.

At 1:12 a.m. June 17, the three left in Hernandez’s rented silver Nissan Altima, McCauley said. Cell towers tracked their movements to a gas station off the highway. There, he said, Hernandez bought blue Bubblicious gum.

At 2:32 a.m., they arrived outside Lloyd’s home in Boston and texted him that they were there. McCauley said Lloyd’s sister saw him get into Hernandez’s car.

From there, surveillance cameras captured images of what the prosecutor said was Hernandez driving the silver Altima through Boston. As they drove back toward North Attleborough, Hernandez told Lloyd he was upset about what happened at the club and didn’t trust him, McCauley said. That was when Lloyd began sending texts to his sister.

Surveillance video showed the car entering the industrial park and at 3:23 a.m. driving down a gravel road near where Lloyd’s body was found. Four minutes later, McCauley said, the car emerged. During that period, employees working an overnight shift nearby heard several gunshots, McCauley said.

McCauley said Lloyd was shot multiple times, including twice from above as he was lying on the ground. He said five .45-caliber casings were found at the scene.

Authorities did not say who fired the shots or identify the two others with Hernandez.

At 3:29 a.m., surveillance at Hernandez’s house showed him arriving, McCauley said.

“The defendant was walking through the house with a gun in his hand. That’s captured on video,” he said.

His friend is also seen holding a gun, and neither weapon has been found, McCauley said.

Then, the surveillance system stopped recording, and footage was missing from the six to eight hours after the slaying, he said.

The afternoon of June 17, the prosecutor said, Hernandez returned the rental car, offering the attendant a piece of blue Bubblicious gum when he dropped it off. While cleaning the car, the attendant found a piece of blue Bubblicious gum and a shell casing, which he threw away. Police later searched the trash bin and found the gum and the casing. The prosecutor said it was tested and matched the casings found where Lloyd was killed.

As McCauley outlined the killing, Lloyd’s family members cried and held each other. Two were so overcome that they had to leave the courtroom.

The Patriots said in a statement after Hernandez’s arrest but before the murder charge was announced that cutting Hernandez was “the right thing to do.”

“Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation,” it said.

Hernandez was drafted by the Patriots in 2010 out of the University of Florida, where he was an All-American.

During the draft, one team said it wouldn’t take him under any circumstances, and he was passed over by one club after another before New England picked 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.

A Florida man filed a lawsuit last week claiming Hernandez shot him in the face after they argued at a strip club in February.

Hernandez became a father on 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.”

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Associated Press writers Bridget Murphy in Boston and Howard Ulman in North Attleborough contributed to this report.

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