Judge ousts juror in ex-NFL star Hernandez's murder trial
Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez is escorted by court officers as he enters Suffolk Superior Court before a hearing in Boston, Massachusetts, June 24, 2014. (REUTERS/Steven Senne/Pool)
A Massachusetts judge on Tuesday removed a juror in the high-profile murder trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez, saying the juror misled the court about attendance at Patriots games and expressed an opinion on the case.
The juror, who was not identified, was a member of the panel of five men and 13 women hearing testimony in Hernandez's trial on charges relating to the 2013 death of Odin Lloyd, a semiprofessional football player who had been dating Hernandez's fiancée's sister.
"There is credible evidence that the juror did talk about the case over the last few years, and that the juror expressed a specific opinion about the case," Associate Justice Susan Garsh said at Massachusetts Superior Court in Fall River.
Garsh added that evidence had emerged that the juror "has attended more Patriots games than were disclosed on the (jury selection) questionnaire."
Jury selection in the closely watched case lasted more than two weeks. Opening statements in the trial came last Thursday.
Hernandez, 25, has been accused of fatally shooting Lloyd near his home in North Attleborough, Massachusetts, in June 2013. He also faces firearms charges. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
The juror was removed two days after the Patriots' Super Bowl victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
Hernandez has separately been accused of killing two Cape Verdean men outside a Boston nightclub in 2012, and will be tried on those charges later this year.
Lloyd's girlfriend, Shaneah Jenkins, testified last week that Lloyd and Hernandez had a cordial relationship, but were only in "the early stages of friendship." She is expected to continue her testimony on Tuesday.
Jenkins, 23, said Lloyd and Hernandez smoked marijuana together at the former National Football League star's house, where he lived with her sister, Shayanna, and their baby.
Prosecutors contend that Hernandez and two friends, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, picked up Lloyd at his home in Boston early on June 17, 2013, and drove him to the industrial park where his body was found.
Investigators have not recovered the gun that was used to murder Lloyd, 27.
Wallace and Ortiz also have been charged in connection with Lloyd's slaying and will be tried separately.