The murder trial of Aaron Hernandez continued today, with witnesses testifying that they found guns in his home and frequently smelled marijuana smoke.
Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end, has been charged with murder and firearms offenses in connection to the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, who was dating his fiance’s sister. Lloyd’s bullet-riddled body was discovered in a North Attleboro industrial park in June of 2013. Prosecutors have previously speculated that Hernandez masterminded Lloyd’s death after becoming concerned that Lloyd would disclose Hernandez’s prior criminal conduct. The trial began at the end of January and is expected to last for a couple of months.
Two housekeepers who cleaned Hernandez’s home testified today that they found two guns in the house at different times. According to multiple media outlets, Marilia Prinholato told the jury that about a month before Lloyd’s death, she found a “big” gun under a mattress in a guest bedroom when she was making the bed. She described the gun as heavy and said it felt like the magazine was full. She also testified that she often smelled marijuana in the basement. A second maid, Grazielli Silva testified that a different, smaller gun was found in a pair of Hernandez’s pants on another occasion. When police executed a search warrant at Hernandez’s home after Lloyd’s death, they found ammunition but no guns. During his opening statement, the prosecutor said he would show surveillance video during the trial depicting Hernandez holding a gun inside of his house.
In addition to the maids’ testimony, the Commonwealth presented two witnesses who said they heard anywhere from five to eight loud bangs come from the industrial park between 3:00 and 3:30 a.m. on the morning that Lloyd was killed. The testimony provided by these witnesses is consistent with the Commonwealth’s timeline of events.
Finally, the judge told the parties that she was reversing a previous ruling she made regarding text messages that were exchanged between Lloyd and his sister shortly before his murder. The judge previously ruled that Lloyd’s sister could not offer any testimony about the text messages. However, today she told the attorneys that the sister would be permitted to tell the jury that she and her brother traded text messages, but she would not be allowed to repeat their content or her reaction to them. In one of the messages, Lloyd told his sister he was with “NFL,” which was a reference to Hernandez. In December, the judge ruled that the content of the messages constituted hearsay and would be inadmissible. The prosecutor had argued that the messages established Lloyd’s fear that he was in danger, but the judge rejected that argument.
There are expected to be several more weeks of testimony before the jury begins deliberations. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Even if he is acquitted in this case, his legal woes are not over. He has been indicted by a Suffolk County grand jury for a double murder that occurred in Boston. That trial will begin at some point after this trial concludes.