Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez took the stand Wednesday at a pre-trial hearing in Fall River Superior Court to answer questions about a potential conflict of interest involving one of the attorneys defending him against charges that he murdered 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, of Boston.
After stating his name, age and career — “I played football, NFL” — and answering a series of "yes" or "no" questions, the uncuffed Hernandez, 23, agreed to keep attorney Michael Fee despite the fact that he works at a Boston law firm where Assistant District Attorney Patrick Bomberg’s wife is employed.
Before addressing that matter, Judge Susan Garsh denied a request by defense attorneys to issue a gag order that would keep lawyers from publicly speaking about details in the high-profile case.
Defense attorneys argued that the gag order would help ensure Hernandez a fair trial, a right which they claim has already been compromised due to a “torrent” of false information generated in newspaper and magazine articles, which cited unnamed law enforcement officials.
Garsh said the professional code of conduct in Massachusetts is sufficient for now, but reminded attorneys that disciplinary measures could be imposed if misconduct occurs.
Hernandez was arrested June 26 for the alleged execution-style murder of Lloyd, a semi-professional football player whose bullet-riddled body was found in an industrial area near Hernandez’s North Attleborough home.
He was cut by the team within hours of his arrest. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and is being held without bail as he awaits trial.
Lloyd was dating the sister of Hernandez’s girlfriend, Shayana Jenkins, who was indicted by a grand jury in September for perjury.
Prosecutors at today's court appearance also asked Garsh to recuse herself. She said she will rule on that request at a later date.