FALL RIVER, Mass. – A judge on Thursday denied bail for former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a friend.
Hernandez’s lawyer argued that Hernandez is not a risk to flee and the case against him is circumstantial.
But a prosecutor said the evidence is “overwhelming.” A search of a Hummer belonging to Hernandez turned up an ammunition clip matching the caliber of casings found at the scene of the killing of Odin Lloyd, the prosecutor said.
Lloyd’s body was discovered by a jogger in a remote area of an industrial park not far from Hernandez’s home 10 days ago. He has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors called Lloyd’s killing an execution-style shooting orchestrated by Hernandez because his friend talked to the wrong people at a nightclub. Hernandez 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. The 2011 Pro Bowl selection had signed a five-year contract last summer with the Patriots worth $40 million.
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.
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.
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.
Lloyd, 27, a semipro 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, Bristol County Assistant District Attorney Bill McCauley said.