ATTLEBORO, Mass. – New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder in the shooting death of a friend prosecutors say had angered the NFL player at a nightclub a few days earlier by talking to the wrong people.
Hernandez, 23, was taken from his home in handcuffs just over a week after Boston semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd’s bullet-riddled body was found in an industrial park a mile away.
Less than two hours after the arrest, the Patriots announced they had cut Hernandez, a 2011 Pro Bowl selection who signed a five-year contract last summer worth $40 million.
Lloyd was a 27-year-old athlete with the Boston Bandits who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. He was shot repeatedly in the back and chest on a secluded gravel road, authorities said.
Hernandez “drove the victim to that remote spot, and then he orchestrated his execution,” prosecutor Bill McCauley said.
If convicted, Hernandez could get life in prison without parole.
“It is at bottom a circumstantial case. It is not a strong case,” his attorney, Michael Fee, said at a court hearing during which Hernandez was ordered held without bail on murder charges and five weapons counts.
McCauley said the slaying 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.” The prosecutor did not elaborate.
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 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 about 2:30 a.m., according to authorities.
Within a few minutes, people working the overnight shift at the industrial park reported hearing gunshots, McCauley said. Surveillance video showed the car going into the industrial park and emerging four minutes later, the prosecutor said.
A short time later, Hernandez returned to his house, and he and one of the other men were seen on his home surveillance system holding guns, McCauley said. Then the system stopped recording, according to the prosecutor.
McCauley said detectives found footage was missing from the six to eight hours after the slaying.