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New murder charges likely won’t help Pats recoup money from Hernandez

Hernandez Getty Images

After the authorities arrested former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez for killing Odin Lloyd in June 2013, the team swiftly terminated a big-money contract Hernandez had inked the prior August.  In October, Hernandez filed a grievance seeking payment of fully guaranteed money along with the final $3.25 million installment of his $12.5 million signing bonus.

With Hernandez now accused of killing two men more than a month before signing the contract, an interesting question arises.  Does the fact that Hernandez allegedly (or, based on the outcome of the trial, actually) gunned down two men before signing the contract enhance the team’s case?

Probably not, based on the relevant language of the labor deal.  The biggest problem for the Patriots flows from the fact that they cut Hernandez.  If they’d kept Hernandez during an inevitable league-imposed suspension, the Patriots eventually could have recovered $10 million in signing bonus money at the rate of $2.5 million per year from 2014 through 2017.  By cutting him, the Patriots arguably have waived the ability to claim that Hernandez has forfeited any of his signing bonus money.

But, as they saw in the legal profession, bad facts make bad law.  The extreme circumstances involving Hernandez could result in an arbitrator twisting and distorting the terms of the labor deal to allow the Patriots to pursue the $10 million in signing bonus money that had not been fully earned by Hernandez before they cut him.

On the other hand, they cut him.  They didn’t have to cut him.  The Falcons didn’t cut Mike Vick when he went to jail in 2007 for dogfighting, and the Falcons eventually recovered significant bonus money from him.  The Patriots easily could have handled the potential P.R. problem by explaining that they had to keep Hernandez on the roster in order to be able to recover their money.

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Report: Hernandez indicted for July 2012 double murder

Hernandez Reuters

If Aaron Hernandez killed Odin Lloyd in June 2013 to avoid scrutiny for the July 2012 murders of Safiro Furtado and Daniel Abreu, it didn’t work.

The death of Lloyd, whom Hernandez perhaps was hoping to silence about the drive-by shooting that killed Furtado and Abreu, resulted in Boston police focusing on Hernandez as a suspect.  Now, according to Ted Daniel of FOX 25 in Boston, Hernandez has been indicted for the killings.

It means that a grand jury has concluded based on a one-sided presentation of evidence from prosecutors that sufficient evidence exists to believe that Hernandez is guilty.  At trial, Hernandez’s interests will be represented by lawyers who can secure his acquittal merely by creating “reasonable doubt” regarding the prosecution’s case.

The Furtado and Abreu murders happened before Hernandez signed a big-money, long-term deal with the Patriots.  If he’s convicted, the team could end up successfully cutting off any remaining guaranteed payments due to Hernandez, including the final installment of his signing bonus.

Hernandez now faces three murder charges, which will entail at least two high-profile trials.  No trial date has been set for the killing of Odin Lloyd, and Hernandez has been jailed without bail since late last June.  He’ll undoubtedly continue to be held without bail pending the outcome of both indictments, even if he’s acquitted in the first case that actually makes it to court.

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Carlos Ortiz faces new murder charge

Ortiz AP

The man who at one point appeared to be on track to serve as the star witness in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial has not one but two murder charges of his own to worry about.

According to the Taunton (Mass.) Gazette, Carlos Ortiz will be arraigned later this month on a new murder charge.  While the article provides no details, it’s unrelated to the Odin Lloyd murder case.

A grand jury indicted Ortiz last month on charges of murder in connection with the death of Lloyd, who was fatally shot in June 2013.  Hernandez has been imprisoned without bail while awaiting trial for Lloyd’s murder.

Early in the investigation, it appeared that Ortiz would provide key details leading to a conviction of Hernandez.  Prosecutors reportedly have abandoned plans to rely on Ortiz as a witness, given conflicts in his version of the events and an alleged history of drug use and abuse.

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Hernandez indicted for assault of another inmate

Aaron Hernandez Court Appearance Getty Images

Yes, Aaron Hernandez officially now has enough legal issues to keep a midsize firm busy on a full-time basis.

Via multiple reports, the former Patriots tight end has been indicted on charges of assault, battery, and threats to do bodily harm.  The indictment results from a February fight with an inmate in the Bristol County Jail.  Hernandez got 30 days in isolation as a result of the incident.

The indictment means that a grand jury has concluded based on a one-sided presentation of evidence from prosecutors that enough evidence of guilt exists to support a conviction.  Regardless of the eventual outcome, it’s the least of Hernandez’s problems, given that he’s current behind bars awaiting trial on charges that he murdered Odin Lloyd last June.

Hernandez also faces a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Lloyd’s estate, a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the estates of two men who were shot and killed in July 2012, a possible prosecution for the murder of those two men, and a lawsuit from a Florida man who claims Hernandez shot the man in the face in February 2013.

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Report: Hernandez investigated for threatening to kill jail guard

Hernandez AP

When it comes to his various legal challenges, former Patriots right end Aaron Hernandez keeps adding new ones instead of resolving old ones.

According to TMZ, Hernandez is being investigated for allegedly threatening to shoot and kill a guard at the Bristol County Jail.  The threat allegedly was made in late 2013.

Hernandez has been imprisoned without bail since June 2013 for allegedly killing Odin Lloyd.

Per the report, investigators have met with another inmate to discuss the allegations.  The inmate was reportedly asked whether he heard Hernandez threaten to “kill the guard and shoot his family” once Hernandez is out of jail, or if Hernandez ever made noises similar to the sound of a machine gun at the guard.

The inmate said Hernandez never threatened the guard.  Which of course means the inmate now won’t have to worry about being shot by Hernandez when Hernandez gets out of jail.

If, of course, Hernandez ever gets out of jail.

Earlier this year, Hernandez was involved in an altercation with another inmate at the jail.  He faces assault charges, and he was placed in isolation for 30 days.

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Appeals judge refuses to modify Hernandez gag order

Hernandez AP

The lawyers handling the Aaron Hernandez slowly-churning prosecution will continue to be prevented from talking about the case.

In February, the judge presiding over the trial issued a so-called “gag order” aimed at slamming the door on leaks to the media from “law enforcement sources” that could tend to make people think that the available evidence against Hernandez in connection with the murder of Odin Lloyd along with the complete lack of an alternate explanation means that Hernandez did it.

On Monday, an appeals-court judge declined to modify the gag order.  Prosecutors weren’t happy with the outcome.

“The district attorney is surprised and disappointed,’’ spokesman Gregg Miliote told the Boston Globe. “But he won’t be able to comment until he has read through the entire decision.’’

While none of it should matter if there’s no intention to engage in tomfoolery, shenanigans, or another fancy multi-syllabic word that refers to mischief, the prosecutor surely is concerned about being accused incorrectly of violating the order, especially since the prosecutor previously asked the judge presiding over the case to step aside due to concerns of general bias against the prosecutor’s office.

Still, nearly 10 months after the murder, the fact that the process remains trapped in procedural nuance should be surprising disappointing for everyone involved.  Hernandez remains in jail without bail.  He deserves to stand trial sooner rather than later.

Then again, the delay gives his lawyers a full and fair chance to come up with a way to conjure reasonable doubt.  The American protection against innocent people wrongfully being jailed (a concept which has been flawless in execution over the last 200-plus years) gives defendants who can afford it the opportunity to hire lawyers sufficiently smart, charming, and resourceful to mesmerize a jury into rejecting a mountain of evidence that should erase all doubt, reasonable and unreasonable.

But that never happensAnywhereFor anyoneIn any setting.

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Assault charges to be pursued against Aaron Hernandez

Hernandez AP

It’s time to add a line to Aaron Hernandez‘ rap sheet.

According to multiple reports, the former Patriots tight end will be charged with simple assault for a jailhouse altercation with an inmate last week.  The two men reportedly encountered each other at a time when Hernandez should have been encountering no one, and Hernandez proceeded to allegedly pummel the other inmate while the other inmate was restrained by handcuffs

Hernandez is being held without bail for the alleged murder of Odin Lloyd.  Hernandez also remains under investigation for the 2012 shooting deaths of Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado.  The families of all three victims have sued Hernandez for wrongful death.

Hernandez likewise has been sued by a man who claims Hernandez shot him in February 2013, and Hernandez undoubtedly will face a lawsuit from the inmate he allegedly beat up.  The inmate will likely sue the jail for negligence in giving Hernandez the opportunity to beat up the inmate.

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Hernandez sued by families of Safiro Furtado and Daniel Abreu

Hernandez AP

While former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez may not be sued by the handcuffed inmate Hernandez allegedly beat up earlier this week in jail, Hernandez has been sued by the families of two men he allegedly killed in July 2012.

According to Travis Anderson of the Boston Globe, a pair of $6 million lawsuits have been filed in Suffolk County Court against Hernandez by the families of Safiro Furtado and Daniel Abreu.

Hernandez is believed to be a suspect in the ongoing criminal investigation of the murders of Furtado and Abreu, who were shot while sitting in a vehicle on July 16, 2012.

“The criminal probe into [Abreu and Furtado’s] homicides remains very active,” a spokesperson for the Suffolk County District Attorney told the Globe.

The family of Odin Lloyd previously sued Hernandez for wrongful death; Hernandez is being held without bond pending trial on the charge of murdering Lloyd.

While Hernandez’s assets are shrinking as he pays ever-mounting legal bills, he’s still seeking $3.25 million in earned but unpaid signing bonus from the Patriots and another $2.96 million in guaranteed pay from the team.  It would be wise for all three families to take steps necessary to freeze Hernandez’s remaining assets in place.

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Hernandez gets 30 days in isolation

Hernandez AP

On Tuesday, former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was involved in an altercation with another inmate in the Bristol County Jail.  On Wednesday, Hernandez landed in isolation for 30 days as a result of the incident.

According to NECN.com, Hernandez will spend 23 hours per day in a cell located in a more restricted area of the facility.  When he leaves the cell, he’ll be required to wear handcuffs and leg shackles.

The problem occurred Tuesday when Hernandez exited his cell without handcuffs and encountered the other inmate, who was wearing handcuffs.

“We’re investigating it now to find out why two inmates would have been out at the same time in that unit,” Sheriff Thomas Hodgson told NECN.com.  “I’m not happy that there may have been a breakdown in our system and our protocols.”

Hernandez, who has been jailed without bail pending trial for the murder of Odin Lloyd, and the other inmate had been taunting each other in the days leading up to the altercation.

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Report: Aaron Hernandez attacks another inmate in jail

Hernandez AP

The fairly significant legal portfolio of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez could be growing by a case.  Or two.

According to TMZ, Hernandez attacked another inmate in the Bristol County Jail on Tuesday.  Per the report, Hernandez “beat the guy up pretty good.”  (Rocky Balboa apparently was reporting from the scene.)

Hernandez normally remains apart from other inmates, ostensibly for his own protection.  It was the other inmate who needed the protection.

TMZ explains that the other inmate had been jawing all day with Hernandez.  And then, coincidentally, the same inmate who was jawing with Hernandez was in a hallway where Hernandez happened to be walking.

It’s funny how thing like that sometimes work out.

Jail officials have not yet confirmed the reported attack by Hernandez, who is imprisoned without bail in connection with the alleged murder of Odin Lloyd.

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Judge imposes gag order in Hernandez case

Judge Garsh issues her ruling denying a prosecutor's motion to recuse herself as judge in the murder trial of former New England Patriots NFL football player Hernandez in Bristol Superior Court in Fall River Reuters

Cases pending in a court of law routinely play out in the court of public opinion.  In criminal cases especially, facts supporting the prosecution’s case can be leaked under the broad cover of “law enforcement sources.”

In the murder case pending against former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, the door has been slammed on any further leaks.

On Friday, Judge Susan Garsh issues a so-called “gag order,” which requires both sides to take “reasonable precautions” to prevent prejudicial disclosures.  The order also requires prosecutors to investigate any reported leaks.

Via the Boston Globe, the order provides in part that “[n]one of the lawyers appearing in this case or any person with supervisory authority over them shall release or authorize the release of information about this proceeding that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by any means of public communication if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that it will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing potential trial jurors or witnesses or will have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused.”

That’s a long, convoluted standard with plenty of nooks and crannies, for both sides.  The prohibition on the release of information “that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated” publicly if the lawyer “knows or reasonably should know” that the information will have a “substantial likelihood” of swaying jurors or increasing “condemnation” of Hernandez ultimately can be more of a sword for the defense than a shield for the prosecution, because terms like “reasonable person” and “reasonably should know” and “substantial likelihood” ultimately will be assessed by Judge Garsh.  Given that the prosecution at one point tried to have Judge Garsh removed from the Hernandez litigation due to alleged bias against prosecutors in a past case, the prosecution likely will try to avoid any situation in which she would have the ability to conclude that this complex standard was violated.

Which means that the prosecution should stay as far away from the line as possible, providing no information to the media. Moving forward, the media will get its information on the case from the court filings and the courtroom proceedings, like the media does in virtually every other criminal case.

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Hernandez’s barber could be a key witness in Lloyd murder case

Hernandez AP

With prosecutors concluding that Carlos Ortiz won’t be a credible source of evidence and few if any in former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez’s inner circle cooperating, it could be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hernandez killed Odin Lloyd last June.

As explained by FOX 25 in Boston, that could make Hernandez’s barber a central figure in the eventual trial.

Robby Olivares has testified before the grand jury that indicted Hernandez, identifying the apartment Hernandez maintained in addition to his large home in North Attleboro, Massachusetts.

Per FOX 25, Olivares may have information regarding the events of June 14 at the Rumor nightclub in Boston, where something said or done by Lloyd allegedly prompted Hernandez to conclude Lloyd needed to be silenced.

Olivares visited Hernandez’s home and cut his hair two days before Hernandez was arrested for murdering Lloyd.  While details remain scant, Olivares could emerge as someone who knows things about the murder — and who may be willing to share that information in court.

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Judge blocks prosecution’s attempt to get Hernandez’s jailhouse conversations

Hernandez AP

The murder case against former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez could be crumbling.

With prosecutors already deciding to punt on supposed star witness Carlos Ortiz, a judge has now blocked an attempt to obtain recordings of Hernandez’s conversations from jail.

According to the Associated Press, the judge said the prosecution didn’t make a sufficient case to obtain the communications, which allegedly contain “coded messages” regarding Lloyd’s murder.  Defense counsel call it a fishing expedition.

It’s a bit of a surprise — given the whole “anything you say can and will be used against you” thing — that Hernandez has any privacy at all regarding things he has said in jail.

Is it a fishing expedition?  Sure.  Should the prosecutors be entitled to fish if the end result is pursuing justice for Odin Lloyd?  Hell, yes.

Ultimately, Hernandez is protected by the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  If Hernandez has said anything in custody that helps remove the doubt, prosecutors should be entitled to use it.

But they can’t use it until they know it exists.  They should be allowed to find out whether it exists.

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Man allegedly shot by Hernandez gets shot again

Bradley AP

Tony Soprano.  Walter White.  Aaron Hernandez.

Guilty or innocent of murder and other alleged misdeeds, Hernandez could be the anti-hero of a compelling TV series in which ancillary cast members routinely gets involved in various predicaments.  Like shootings.

The latest twist involves a man Hernandez allegedly shot in Florida last year.  Via the Associated Press, Alexander Bradley was shot multiple times in the right thigh on Sunday night in Hartford, Connecticut.  Bradley then allegedly returned fire outside the Vevo Lounge Bar & Grill.

“Evidence revealed there was a disturbance in the club that was pushed outside by staff,” Lt. Brian Foley said, via the AP.  “At this point, Bradley was shot.  Bradley went to a vehicle, got a gun, then shot up the front of the club.”

Some will suspect that Bradley was targeted by associates of Hernandez, given that Bradley has sued Hernandez for the shooting that happened last year — and that Hernandez has performed the legal equivalent of crying “uncle” by invoking the Fifth Amendment in response to the suit.  If Bradley isn’t, you know, alive, he can’t testify against Hernandez in that case, or in any others.

For now, Bradley is expected to survive.  It’ll be interesting to see what he says about who shot him this time.  If he’s willing to say anything about it at all.

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Prosecutors give up on Carlos Ortiz as witness against Hernandez

Ortiz AP

The case against former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez may not be as strong as once believed.

Carlos Ortiz, once believed to be the star witness against Hernandez in the murder of Odin Lloyd based on the extent to which information apparently obtained from him was used to support search warrants and arrest warrants, will now not be called as a witness at all.  Via the Taunton (Mass.) Daily Gazette, paperwork filed Friday in court indicates that prosecutors view Ortiz as “completely unreliable” based on the fact that his once-damning story has dramatically changed.

As a result, prosecutors could now be attempting the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass.

Via the Associated Press, prosecutors want to review Hernandez’s phone conversations in search of “coded messages” that could show Hernandez was talking about the murder of Odin Lloyd with his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, and/or his cousin, Tanya Singleton.

Prosecutors contend Hernandez discussed Lloyd’s murder in cryptic fashion.  Topics allegedly included Hernandez’s “belief about his criminal liability” and the “extent of his control over persons charged as accessories.”

Even if that’s what happened, it could be a challenge to use “I took care of that thing”-style remarks to show guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  But that may be all they have, if neither Ortiz nor Ernest Wallace, the two men allegedly in the car with Hernandez and Lloyd before Lloyd was shot to death, will be testifying against Hernandez.

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