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Pats clarify texts between Belichick, Hernandez

Belichick Getty Images

The team that never says anything unless it has to has decided that it needs to say something about the report that coach Bill Belichick and former tight end Aaron Hernandez exchanged 33 pages of text messages.

Via Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe, lawyer Andrew Phelan released a statement clarifying the extent of the communications and the period over which they occurred.

“Earlier this week, a report indicated that an exchange of text messages between the team’s head coach and Mr. Hernandez totaled 33 pages,” Phelan said.  “While it is unknown how the texts were printed or displayed, I thought it was important to clarify that during an early investigation conducted by state prosecutors, the team produced a total of 34 text messages (not pages of texts) spanning a period of five months (December 2012 — May 2013) between the head coach and Mr. Hernandez.”

While the content of the messages remains to be determined, the Patriots felt compelled to make sure it’s understood that the back and forth didn’t consume 33 full pages of text.  This won’t change the fact that the messages will be scrutinized with the benefit of hindsight for any hint that would have put the Patriots on notice of Hernandez’s impending implosion.  It only means that there aren’t as many messages as the report of 33 pages of texts would imply.

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League, NFLPA may want to look at Belichick-Hernandez texts

Hernandez AP

Setting aside for now the idea that a guy who seemingly avoids interpersonal communication whenever and wherever possible somehow generated 33 pages of text messages with one person over a four-month period, the content of those exchanges between Patriots coach Bill Belichick and former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez from February through May of 2013 could be of interest to the league office for competitive reasons.

The labor deal signed in August 2011 placed new limits on the extent to which coaches can coach players in the offseason.  Prior to the start of the offseason workout program in April of each year, meetings between coaches and player are prohibited, and “players’ activities may not be directed or supervised by any coaches.”

It’s unclear what that quote, taken from Article 21, Section 2(a)(iv) of the CBA, actually means.  If interpreted as broadly as it seems to be written, any texts from Belichick that could be construed as any direction or supervision of Hernandez’s football-related activities could ultimately be a problem.

This assumes that the league or the NFLPA would even be inclined to do anything about it.  The Peyton Manning/Adam Gase Tuscaloosan rendezvous was by all appearances swept under Nick Saban’s pile of Little Debbie wrappers.  The folks in charge of enforcing the rules seem to realize that there’s some play in the joints, especially when contact during non-contact practices blows out a guy’s knee without consequence.  (Other than the blown-out knee.)

Regardless of whether the texts show supervision and direction that violates the letter of the CBA, the 33 pages will shed plenty of light on the real Bill Belichick, a guy who has managed to keep most of himself tightly concealed from view — with the lone exception of the documentary he uncharacteristically allowed NFL Films to produce a few years back.  It could be that Belichick was simply keeping closer tabs on Hernandez during the first offseason in which the player had an enormous amount of cash in his bank account, thanks to the long-term contract signed the prior August.  Still, if/when the text messages ever come to light, the words thumb-typed by the cryptic coach will be scrutinized for any hint that Belichick knew or should have known that Hernandez was behaving irrationally or otherwise at risk of doing something incredibly stupid and/or criminal while left to his own devices.

And if there’s any plausible reason to think that Belichick feared Hernandez was heading down the wrong path only a few weeks before allegedly killing Odin Lloyd and failed to do anything about it, the questions will get a lot more serious and pointed than whether Belichick was coaching players at a time on the calendar when coaching wasn’t allowed.

For that reason, there’s a very good chance that the Patriots will do everything they can to ensure that the text messages never are disclosed.  Hopefully by employing a better procedure than the one used to secure their Johnny Football scouting report.

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Hernandez cousin pleads guilty to criminal contempt for refusing to testify

Singleton AP

Barry Bonds had Greg Anderson.  Aaron Hernandez has Tanya Singleton.

Via the Associated Press, the cousin of the former Patriots tight end and alleged triple murderer has pleaded guilty to criminal contempt arising from her refusal to testify before the grand jury investigating the Odin Lloyd murder case.  Singleton’s lawyer said in court on Monday that she also will plead guilty to criminal contempt in connection with a refusal to testify before the grand jury investigating the July 2012 murders of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston.

Singleton continues to maintain her innocence on charges that she served as an accessory after the fact to the murder of Odin Lloyd.

While bad news for Singleton, her refusal to answer questions under oath could be good news for Hernandez, making it harder for prosecutors to prove that he killed anyone.

But Singleton presumably will face criminal contempt charges again when the various murder cases head to trial and Singleton refuses to testify again.  The decision of a family member to refuse to testify could persuade some jurors to think that the accused is guilty — assuming there’s otherwise enough evidence to overcome the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Hernandez loses effort to suppress evidence in Lloyd murder case

Video Getty Images

The contours of any murder case are shaped by a string of rulings regarding evidence that will and won’t be introduced at the eventual trial.  On Monday, former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez lost the first battle regarding the proof that will be available for use by the prosecution during the Odin Lloyd murder trial.

According to the Associated Press, Judge E. Susan Garsh rejected a request to suppress evidence harvested from the video surveillance system installed in Hernandez’s home.

Judge Garsh determined that police had reasonable cause to believe that the video surveillance system “likely captured the images of whoever entered, left and returned to Hernandez’s house in the hours immediately before and after the shooting,” justifying the issuance of the search warrant that collected the evidence.

Hernandez’s lawyers argued in part that the warrant was too broad because it permitted the recovery of images captured inside Hernandez’s home.

The trial currently is scheduled to begin on October 6.  Hernandez faces two other murder charges from an unrelated shooting in July 2012.

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Texts from Belichick to Hernandez (33 pages) included in evidence

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media regarding the criminal charges against Aaron Hernandez in Foxboro Reuters

The Patriots have worked extremely hard to distance themselves from Aaron Hernandez since he was first charged with murder, with owner Robert Kraft saying they were all “duped,” and coach Bill Belichick retreating to the safe haven of grunting about football.

But they still had to talk about their former tight end to Massachusetts detectives.

According to Jenny Wilson of the Hartford Courant, the statements from both Belichick and Kraft were among the pieces of evidence turned over to Hernandez’s defense attorneys, and made available Monday.

Prosecutors also turned over 33 pages of text messages between Belichick and Hernandez between February 2013 and May 2013, the four months leading up to the shooting death of Odin Lloyd.

That’s a load of communication between a coach and a player, especially a coach who doesn’t appear to LOL very often.

Detectives also interviewed director of football Berj Najarian, director of player personnel Nicholas Caserio and strength coach Moses Cabrera according to the list of documents which are entered into evidence.

The evidence also includes rental contracts for dozens of cars, going back to 2011.

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Report: Patriots don’t want to share scouting reports on Hernandez

Aaron Hernandez AP

The Patriots’ willingness to share information they collected on former tight end Aaron Hernandez with his defense team reportedly does not extend to their scouting reports.

According to the Boston Globe, an attorney for the club argued Wednesday that the Patriots should not have to give up scouting reports on Hernandez from 2009 and 2010, as well as a NFL Scouting Combine report on Hernandez from 2010. The club is willing to share more than 300 pages of other information on Hernandez, according to the report.

Per the Globe, Hernandez’s legal team wants the scouting reports and Combine writeup for its defense of Hernandez, who is charged with murdering three people. The newspaper reported that another hearing regarding the information the Patriots may have to furnish is set for July 22.

The Patriots selected Hernandez in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

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Judge rules Aaron Hernandez can move to different jail

Aaron Hernandez AP

Last week, prosecutors in Bristol County, Massachusetts said that they had no objection to former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez’s request to move from a jail in that county to one closer to Boston.

On Monday, Judge Susan Garsh gave her approval for the move. Hernandez’s lawyers argued that Hernandez should be moved in order to make it easier for him to meet with counsel as well as because he was being mistreated by corrections officers. Prosecutors denied the latter charges and Garsh did not address them in her ruling.

She also did not specify a jail to which Hernandez should be moved and said that she wasn’t sure whether October 6 was a realistic date to start Hernandez’s trial on charges that he murdered Odin Lloyd. Garsh suggested that potential motions could push the date back, including one from defense attorneys asking for a change of venue away from Bristol County.

“We’re not prepared to do that now,” Hernandez’s attorney Jamie Sultan said, via the Associated Press. “That may well be coming.”

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to the Lloyd charges as well as charges that he murdered two men in Boston in 2012.

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Prosecutors OK with Hernandez moving to different jail, deny mistreatment

Aaron Hernandez AP

Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez’s lawyers recently requested that Hernandez be moved from the prison in Bristol County, Massachusetts to a facility closer to Boston because they claim Hernandez has been mistreated by the Bristol County sheriff’s office.

Prosecutors in Bristol County, where Hernandez is awaiting trial for allegedly murdering Odin Lloyd, said Thursday that they do not oppose transferring Hernandez to Suffolk County. Hernandez is to be tried in that county for allegedly murdering Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston in 2012.

Hernandez’s attorneys objected to the sheriff sharing information with prosecutors about Hernandez’s conversations in jail and information that led to assault charges against Hernandez for an incident with another inmate. The Bristol District Attorney’s office strongly denied those allegations while agreeing to the move on the grounds that it would be easier for Hernandez to meet with his attorneys.

“The government vigorously rejects the defendant’s baseless, theatrical and legally unsupportable allegations of misconduct against both the sheriff and the prosecution contained in his submission,’’ the D.A.’s office said, via the Boston Globe. “Evidence suggests that efforts to conceal [Hernandez’s] offenses continued even after the defendant’s arrest and detention. In these circumstances, it was by no means unreasonable for the sheriff to harbor concerns that the defendant might use the prison communication system or visitor privileges to facilitate his criminal endeavors.”

The request for transfer must still be approved by a judge in Bristol County and neither trial is expected to start for some time.

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Patriots argue they are done paying Aaron Hernandez

Aaron Hernandez AP

The Patriots don’t intend to write any more checks to Aaron Hernandez, and counsel for the families of two men he’s accused of killing don’t want him getting any more money, either.

According to The Associated Press, the Patriots argued in Suffolk County (Mass.) Superior Court Wednesday that they are free of any responsibility to pay $3.25 million in unpaid signing bonus to Hernandez, whom they released in June 2013 after he was charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd.

Per the AP, the Patriots were in court for a hearing in the wrongful death lawsuits filed against Hernandez by the families of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, whom Hernandez is charged with murdering in 2012.

According to the AP, the Patriots have agreed to inform the court if Hernandez wins an NFLPA-filed grievance to receive money he claims he’s still owed by the franchise. Also, Judge Bonnie H. MacLeod indicated she’s probably not inclined to grant a motion to add the Patriots as a defendant to the wrongful death lawsuit, per the AP.

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Lawyer will seek to block Patriots payments to Hernandez on Wednesday

Hernandez AP

As the multiple prosecutions of Aaron Hernandez continue to percolate, an effort to block him from receiving any additional money from his former NFL team hits full boil on Wednesday.

Via the Associated Press, a lawyer representing the estates of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado will ask a judge during a Wednesday hearing to block the Patriots from paying any further money to Hernandez.  The goal is to ensure that the money will be available if/when it’s proven in civil court that Hernandez killed the two men.

“It’s really a motion to prevent any further payments to be made by the New England Patriots to Mr. Hernandez pending any further action of the court,” lawyer William Kennedy said.  “What we’re looking to do is preserve as much as we possibly can — any assets — for the satisfaction of the families of the two decedents.”

Hernandez has filed a grievance seeking the payment of bonus money and other guaranteed sums from the team.  Because the Patriots cut Hernandez promptly after he was arrested, the Patriots arguably have forfeited the ability to keep $3.25 million in bonus money that was earned by Hernandez when he signed his contract in August 2012 but not actually due to be paid until March 2014.

Which means that the $3.25 million ultimately will be available to the estates of at least two of Hernandez’s three alleged victims.

Which means that, by fighting to keep Hernandez’s money, the Patriots essentially are fighting to keep money from the families of the people he allegedly killed.

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2014 Florida calendar features Aaron Hernandez

Hernandez Getty Images

The Lions finally have someone they can laugh at regarding calendar blunders.

Anyone who purchased the 2014 University of Florida calendar and flipped the page to July today saw an oversized image of former Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Via the Associated Press, school officials claim that the 2014 calendar was approved before Hernandez was arrested in June 2013 for the murder of Odin Lloyd.  Hernandez has since been charged with a pair of other murders.

Curiously, the issue hadn’t been flagged previously, given that the calendars were printed and purchased in 2013.

The existing copies of the calendar won’t be recalled.

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Aaron Hernandez faces double murder trial on May 28

The words "blood" and "sweat" are seen tattooed on the hands of former NFL player Hernandez, as he appears in court for a motion hearing in Attleborough Reuters

If the current schedule holds, former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez will stand trial on three murder charges in fewer than eight months.

Earlier this week, a judge in Boston picked May 28 as the date on which Hernandez will face a jury for the July 2012 shooting deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.

Hernandez currently is scheduled to be tried on October 6 for allegedly killing Odin Lloyd in June 2013.

Judge Jeffrey Locke made it clear on Tuesday that the double murder case won’t take a back seat to the Lloyd trial.

“Don’t consider this case suspended until October,” Locke said, via the New York Daily News.

It also would be unwise to consider that both trials will occur as scheduled.  Delays are the norm not the exception when it comes to criminal trials, regardless of the profile.

Judge Locker also was asked to impose a gag order in the de Abreu and Furtado cases.  A ban on leaks to the press previously was issued in connection with the Lloyd prosecution.

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Aaron Hernandez had to leave jail for hospital visit

Aaron Hernandez Court Appearance Getty Images

Aaron Hernandez was out of jail yesterday, but only for about an hour.

According to the Associated Press, the former Patriots tight end was taken from a jail to a hospital for an undisclosed problem, before returning to custody.

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said Hernandez was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford on Saturday, but was back in the Bristol County jail in Dartmouth about an hour later.

Hodgson wouldn’t comment on the nature of the trip or the treatment.

Which makes him kind of like the Patriots, if you think about it.

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Hernandez victims seek unpaid bonus money

Hernandez AP

A click-bait headlines go, “Hernandez victims sue Patriots” would have been far more effective.  And technically accurate.

Via the Associated Press, the estates of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado have added the Patriots and Kraft Enterprises LLC as defendants in the pending wrongful death lawsuit filed against former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.  The move aims to block Hernandez from getting the cash he seeks from the Patriots under his 2012 contract via a grievance filed by the NFLPA.

Hernandez wants $3.25 million in unpaid signing bonus money and another $2.96 million in guaranteed payments from the Patriots.  Because he had earned the signing bonus and the Patriots had cut him from the team, Hernandez has a strong to quite strong case for the $3.25 million.  As to the $2.96 million, his chances are much slimmer.

The estates of de Abreu, Furtado, and Odin Lloyd have quite strong to very strong civil cases against Hernandez for killing them.  Regardless of what happens in the criminal prosecutions, where the standard of proof is very high, a 50.0000001 to 49.9999999 standard applies in the civil case.  If Hernandez wins the grievance, the $3.25 million quite possibly will go to the families of his alleged victims.

It’s not known whether Lloyd’s estate has filed a similar claim.  There’s no reason not to.  With Hernandez’s cash reportedly shrinking, the only assets left could be the house he’s prohibited from selling due to the lawsuits and the bonus money he hasn’t received from the Patriots.

From Hernandez’s perspective, the civil cases represent the least of his legal worries.  And as he prepares to face trial for three murders, his lawyers have asked that Hernandez be moved to a jail closer to Boston, alleging that Hernandez’s safety and his ability to communicate with his lawyers is being compromised.  The lawyers specifically allege that Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson has colluded with the district attorney, has “abandoned” his duty to detain Hernandez in a safe manner, and has used Hernandez for “self promotion and virtually nonstop publicity.”

Hodgson, arguably seizing on the filing for even more publicity, called the contention “outrageous” and claimed the jail is “nationally accredited.”

It doesn’t really matter where Hernandez is kept as he awaits trial.  What ultimately will matter is whether he’s kept behind bars after any of the three murder trials.

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Hernandez’s lawyers want medical records from Patriots

Hernandez AP

With a trial date finally set in one of the three murder cases against former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, his lawyers want to force his former employer to share some information with them.

Via the Associated Press, Hernandez’s legal team on Tuesday filed a request for a subpoena seeking documents in the team’s possession relating to “psychological testing, medication records, X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, drug or alcohol abuse-related records, other medical records, physical therapy records, scouting reports, and investigative reports.”

The lawyers claim that the documents are essential to trial preparation, contending that the request “is not intended as a general ‘fishing’ expedition” and explaining the documents are potentially relevant to his state of mind and circumstances.

It’s potentially a stretch to believe that any materials in the team’s possession would relate to the crafting of a defense to the charge that Hernandez killed Odin Lloyd a year ago yesterday, but reasonable doubt can take many shapes and forms.  Before picking the best ammunition for a closing argument aimed at concocting something/anything to lead to an acquittal, the lawyers have to know what’s possibly out there — including the possibility of claiming he’s not guilty by reason of insanity.

Regardless of whether any information from the Patriots actually is used at trial, a court order forcing the disclosure of documents about Hernandez could lead to the eventual leakage of materials suggesting that the Patriots knew or should have known more about his activities away from the field.

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