ATTLEBORO, Mass. — The release of search warrants, scheduled for 2 p.M. Tuesday, could provide new details into the murder case against former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.
On Monday, judge Daniel O’Shea, granting a motion filed by several news organizations, ordered the impounded documents released, but gave prosecutors and defense attorneys time to appeal the ruling.
Bristol County (Mass.) District Attorney Samuel Sutter said Monday that although his office disagreed with the ruling, it would abide by it. There was no indication whether defense attorneys would appeal.
Hernandez — charged with the premeditated murder of 27-year-old friend and semipro football player, Odin Lloyd, and five weapons charges — has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail. His attorneys have called the case against him “circumstantial” and “not strong” and say Hernandez is eager to prove his innocence.
Two men who were in the car with Hernandez and Lloyd on the night Lloyd was killed, according to prosecutors, are in custody on lesser charges but are being held without bail.
Carlos Ortiz, 27, of Bristol, Conn., Faces a felony weapons charge and returned to court Tuesday for a dangerousness hearing, but that was postponed until Aug. 14. Ortiz agreed to continue to be held without bail until then.
On that date, a judge could rule Ortiz dangerous for possessing an illegal firearm in public and order him held without bail for 90 days — a strategy prosecutors believe gives them further insurance against Ortiz getting his bail reduced. Ortiz was charged with illegally carrying a firearm on the day of the shooting.
Ernest Wallace, who has been charged with being an accessory after the fact, made a brief court appearance at his arraignment on Monday. Wallace, 41, of Bristol and Miramar, Fla., Has pleaded not guilty and has agreed to be held without bail until another hearing on July 22. With that agreement, prosecutors didn’t have to show their case against Wallace during the arraignment, so no new details of the case were divulged.
But, if defense attorneys don’t seek and win an appeal of the document release, new nuggets might be found in the paperwork prosecutors used to gain search warrants for Hernandez’s home in an upscale North Attleborough neighborhood. Hernandez’s home and surrounding areas were searched at least twice in the week leading up to his arrest.
Some NFL-level trash-talking erupted Monday, when Sutter was told that one of Hernandez’s attorneys, who wanted the search warrant documents sealed, said the district attorney’s office, presumably by not appealing the release of the documents, was depriving Hernandez of a fair trial. Sutter smirked.
“What a change,” he said. “Just two weeks ago, we were being commended for our professionalism. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that his client has been charged with murder. It certainly is a dramatic change from what he was saying on June 24.”.
Sutter was referring to a statement by Michael Fee, one of Hernandez’s attorneys, who, ripped the media for inaccurate reports about a pending arrest warrant for obstruction of justice. In that statement, Fee said the misinformation wasn’t coming from Sutter’s staff and, he added, “we appreciate the professionalism and restraint shown by the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office.”.