Just after the New England Patriots are celebrating their place in the NFL Super Bowl XLIX, their former teammate is facing prospective jurors in a looming murder trial that may draw high profile prosecution witnesses including Patriots owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick.
About two dozen jurors answered questions Tuesday at Bristol County Superior Court during closed-door sidebar sessions that were cut off from the media as well as family members of Odin Lloyd, the 27-year-old Dorchester man Hernandez allegedly shot dead in June 2013. Hernandez had a $41 million contract at the time of his arrest.
He has pleaded not guilty to Lloyd’s death, as well as the shooting deaths of two Boston men in 2012 – a separate case.
More than 1,100 jury candidates were summoned to Superior Court in Fall River this month to fill out questionnaires, which included questions about whether they had tattoos, were fans of the Patriots or had personal experience with marijuana.
Kraft and Belichick’s names were included on a list of more than 300 potential witnesses that prosecutors might call once testimony gets going. Two NFL players, Brandon Spikes of the Buffalo Bills and Mike Pouncey of the Miami Dolphins, may also testify.
The Patriots dominated the Indianapolis Colts at the AFC championship game on Sunday, securing their spot in the Feb. 1 Super Bowl game in Glendale, Arizona.
On Tuesday, Bristol Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh excused 15 prospective jurors and moved seven others to the final jury pool, which expected to reach 50, according to The Boston Globe.
Once the jury pool is selected, prosecutors and defense lawyers will sift through jurors. Ultimately, a 12-person jury with six alternates will be seated.