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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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Trial date set in Odin Lloyd murder case

Hernandez AP

Nearly one year to the day after someone shot and killed Odin Lloyd, a judge set a trial date in the case against Lloyd’s accused killer.

Buried at the bottom of an Associated Press story regarding Monday’s hearing in the Aaron Hernandez case comes perhaps the biggest, and most awaited, news of all:  The trial will start October 6.

The trial date is tentative, as all trial dates are.  But in a case where there hadn’t even been a tentative trial date in the months since Hernandez was first arrested, having a tentative trial date represents real progress.

Monday’s hearing also included an attack by Hernandez’s lawyers on the quality of the evidence against him in the Lloyd murder, through a formal motion to dismiss the charges.

“You can’t throw a bunch of stuff at the wall. That’s not probable cause,” attorney James Sultan said in court.

Sultan conceded that the prosecution has sufficient evidence to prove that Hernandez was with Lloyd the night Lloyd was killed, but that there’s no evidence beyond that to prove Hernandez killed Lloyd.

In response, the prosecution explained, among other things, that Lloyd’s body was found roughly 1,000 yards from Hernandez’s home in a town where Hernandez was the only person Lloyd knew.

The judge didn’t rule on the motion to dismiss the case against Hernandez.  It would be a surprise if the case doesn’t go to trial.

Hernandez also on Monday pleaded not guilty to charges that he attacked a handcuffed inmate earlier this year and that he threatened to kill a guard.  No trial date has been set in that case, or in the case claiming Hernandez killed Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in July 2012.

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Aaron Hernandez is running out of money

Hernandez AP

After spending nearly a year behind bars and dealing with an ever-growing list of legal issues, former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez apparently is running out of cash.

As first reported by Kevin Vaughn of FOX Sports, Hernandez is having trouble paying his lawyers.  Two of the men who appeared at this week’s arraignment on double murder charges, Charles Rankin and James Sultan, filed court documents indicating they may no longer be representing Hernandez.

Rankin and Sullivan, along with Michael Fee, have served as Hernandez’s primary counsel.  Fee has not filed a similar motion.

On one hand, something doesn’t feel right about lawyers bleeding a millionaire dry and then cutting him lose when he’s out of money.  On the other hand, lawyers will end up being out of money if they work for free.

Complicating matters is that Hernandez has been unable to sell his house in North Attleboro, due to the wrongful-death civil lawsuits filed by his three alleged victims.  The home, purchased by Hernandez for $1.3 million in November 2012, could eventually be sold to provide compensation to the families.

Hernandez also could see an infusion of $3.25 million.  That’s the remaining installment of his 2012 signing bonus, which the Patriots refused to pay in March 2014.  While the labor deal gives teams the ability to recover signing bonus money when a player becomes incarcerated, the Patriots chose to quickly cut ties with Hernandez, arguably forfeiting their ability to keep the $3.25 million or to pursue other money from Hernandez.

On Friday, Patriots owner Robert Kraft refused to elaborate on the situation during an event at Gillette Stadium.

“When he was arrested, we cut him from the team, I was very clear about it,” Kraft said, via Tom Curran of CSNNE.com.  “You can go back and read what I said then. That’s the way I feel, and will continuously feel.”

Feelings of being “duped” may not be enough to allow Kraft and the Patriots to keep their $3.25 million.  The only good news for the team is that, if/when the money is paid, Hernandez will likely never actually get any of it, not with three wrongful-death lawsuits and at least three lawyers who have been spending a lot of time working on his various cases.

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Hernandez pleads not guilty to new murder charges

Hernandez AP

To no surprise, former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to charges that he murdered Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu in July 2012.  Hernandez also pleaded not guilty to the other charges emerging from an incident allegedly sparked by an altercation at a Boston nightclub.

The hearing included an explanation from prosecutors that the murders were the culmination of a chain of events that began when one of the two men accidentally bumped into Hernandez, causing him to spill a drink.

Prosecutors explained in court that Hernandez believed de Abreu deliberately bumped into Hernandez.  He allegedly tracked down de Abreu, opening fire on the SUV in which de Abreu and Furtado were riding.

The defense objected to the details shared by prosecutors in court, contending that those allegation will unfairly prejudice Hernandez.  Magistrate Gary D. Wilson responded with a forceful, matter-of-fact explanation that it’s standard practice for the Commonwealth’s representatives to share with the court some of the facts of the case, adding that the arraignment was ultimately no different than the 1,900 other capital-murder arraignments over which Wilson has presided since 1983.

Hernandez will return to court of June 24 for a scheduling hearing.  It’s possible but not likely that a trial date will be set at that time.

Charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd, Hernandez has been held without bail since being arrested in June 2013.

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Hernandez will be facing more than murder charges on Wednesday

Hernandez AP

When arraigned on his latest collection of criminal charges in a Boston courthouse on Wednesday afternoon, former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez will formally hear that he has been indicted for the July 2012 murders of Safiro Furtado and Daniel Abreu.  But Hernandez will hear more than that.

Albert Breer of NFL Network, citing the Suffolk County District Attorney, reports that Hernandez also will be charged with three counts of armed assault with intent to murder, and that he will be charged with a count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and unlawful possession of a firearm.

The seven total charges all arise from the allegation that Hernandez fired bullets into the automobile in which the deceased and others were sitting on the evening in question, after leaving a Boston nightclub.

The authorities apparently became aware of Hernandez’s role in a case that was growing cold last June after the murder of Odin Lloyd.  With Lloyd unable to testify in connection with the Furtado and Abreu murders, another guy who allegedly was once shot by Hernandez, Alexander Bradley, could end up being a key witness.

Bradley sued Hernandez last year for allegedly shooting Bradley in the face in February 2013.  Via CNN, Bradley allegedly was with Hernandez on the night Furtado and Abreu were shot.

Regardless of the outcome of the various charges pending against Hernandez, he stands accused of committing at least three murders while playing for an NFL team.  As NFL crime sprees go, it’s unprecedented.  Even if his lawyers find a way to conjure reasonable doubt at trial as to each of the killings, it’s hard to imagine any team in the league ever taking a chance on him again.

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Hernandez to be arraigned on double murder charges Wednesday

Hernandez AP

Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez will return to court on Wednesday.  While that’s a statement that has been made many times in the past year, this week’s visit could be the most significant yet.

Hernandez will be arraigned on charges that he shot and killed Safiro Furtado and Daniel Abreu in July 2012.  As the movie-watching world learned from My Cousin Vinny, the options are simple — guilty or not guilty.  But there’s a chance that more details will emerge regarding the contention that Hernandez opened fire on the pair of men after an encounter of some sort in a Boston nightclub.

Hernandez has been incarcerated since he was arrested last June for the murder of Odin Lloyd.  Through the process of investigating a possible motive, police apparently tripped over the potential connection of Hernandez to the earlier crime.

No trial date has been set for the Lloyd murder.  It’s unclear when Hernandez will be tried in connection with the latest charges.

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Police seek evidence against Hernandez from tattoo artists

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

In criminal cases, the notion that “anything you say can and will be used against you” applies to anything the criminal defendant says, at any time.

Witnesses can testify about things they heard the defendant say; under the rules of evidence in most if not all American jurisdictions, it’s not hearsay because the defendant can always take the stand and respond to the testimony.

As to former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, police hope to speak to the folks who applied some of the tattoos to his body.  Specifically, to his right arm during the period from February 2012 to June 2013.

“It’s the tattoo artist who gave him a tattoo on his right forearm, but we’re not saying what the tattoo was,” a spokesman from the Suffolk County DA’s office told Jim Corbett of USA Today.

“We don’t want to influence the statements of anyone who might have this information.  So we’re not being specific in which tattoo we’re looking at.  What we hope to learn, really we want to get unvarnished, unrehearsed observations from any tattoo artists.  It could provide information of an evidentiary value.”

Of course, the mere mention of their desire to speak to the tattoo artists regarding tattoo art placed on Hernandez’s right forearm could influence statements and/or result in varnished, rehearsed observations.  But since the police obviously don’t know who supplied the tattoos, they need to say something in the hopes of generating leads.

And so, as Corbett noted in his article, anyone out there who may know something about Hernandez’s tattoos on his right forearm obtained from February 2012 through June 2013 should call Boston Police Sgt. Marc Sullivan at 617-343-5839.

The fact that they’ve had to go public with this request demonstrates the complexity of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  Based on something on Hernandez’s arm, police believe that he may have said something to someone to suggest that he was responsible for the shooting deaths of Safiro Furtado and Daniel Abreu.  If the case was open and shut, they wouldn’t be fishing.

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Hernandez contractual clause may not help Patriots get money back

Hernandez Reuters

With Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez facing double murder charges from an incident occurring before he signed a long-term deal that paid a $12.5 million signing bonus, the team surely will do whatever it can to try to recover as much of the money as possible.

As explained Thursday, their decision to cut him makes that effort much more difficult.  The Patriots should have retained his rights (like the Falcons did from 2007 through 2009 with Mike Vick), which would have allowed them to recover up to $10 million in signing bonus money, if Hernandez ultimately was unable to play from 2013 through 2016 due to incarceration.

CBS Boston has offered up a different take, based on a January 2013 report from former agent Joel Corry.  Said Corry at the time:  “Hernandez’s contract contains a clause where he represents and warrants that there weren’t any existing circumstances when he signed his deal that would prevent his continued availability throughout the contract.  Committing or participating in a double murder should meet this standard.  There’s another clause explicitly stating that the Patriots wouldn’t have entered into the contract except for Hernandez’s representations.”

The language cited by Corry doesn’t appear in the Standard Player Contract, which means that (if the report is accurate), the Patriots and Hernandez separately agreed to that language.  Even so, the presence of the language doesn’t mean that the Patriots will be able to recover bonus money in a way that conflicts with the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Paragraph 21 of the Standard Player Contract states that, if the player’s contract conflicts with the CBA, the CBA prevails.  And the CBA sets forth the exclusive procedure for obtaining a forfeiture of money paid to the player.

At Article 4, Section 9, the CBA spells out the circumstances that allow money to be recovered.  A “forfeitable breach” happens when a player under contract, for one of several reasons (including being in jail), fails to show up for work.  If the Patriots hadn’t cut Hernandez, and if he had been unable to show up for work from 2013 through 2016, they could have recovered up to $10 million of his $12.5 million signing bonus.

But they cut him.  By cutting him, they lost the ability to recover any of his signing bonus based on his failure to show up for work in any of the five years of the contract that the bonus covered, at $2.5 million per year.

The language Corry mentions, if it’s indeed in the contract, shouldn’t matter.  The CBA takes precedence.

And if the Patriots push the issue of the contractual language too aggressively, they’ll at some point invite more pointed questions from the media and fans about why they gave Hernandez a $12.5 million signing bonus without knowing everything there was to know about whether Hernandez had done or would do something that would keep him from working by virtue of his employment in a state-run license-plate factory.

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