Judge won't issue gag order in ex-NFL player murder case

Thu Oct 10, 2013 12:50pm EDT
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By Scott Malone

FALL RIVER, Massachusetts (Reuters) - The judge hearing the murder trial of former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez declined on Wednesday to issue a gag order prohibiting lawyers involved in the case from speaking about it publicly.

But Associate Justice Susan Garsh reminded prosecutors and defense attorneys that Massachusetts trial rules still place significant limits on what public statements they can make about an ongoing criminal proceeding.

"The rules of professional conduct coupled by admonitions from the court render it unnecessary to issue an order," Garsh said at a hearing in Massachusetts Superior Court in Fall River.

"Failure to issue an order at this time should not be deemed to constitute any endorsement by this court of counsel trying this case in the media or allowing their investigators to do so," she said.

The case of the former New England Patriots tight end had drawn intense media interest even before his arrest after the June 17 shooting of his friend Odin Lloyd in an industrial area near his North Attleborough, Massachusetts, home.

Hernandez, 23, was a star player with a $41 million contract when he was arrested on June 26 and charged in the death of Lloyd, a semi-professional football player. The Patriots dropped Hernandez a few hours after his arrest.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, which include one count of murder and several firearms-related offenses.

'I PLAYED FOOTBALL'   Continued...

Aaron Hernandez (R), former player for the NFL's New England Patriots football team, talks to defense attorneys Michael Fee (L) and Charles Rankin during a court appearance at the Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts October 9, 2013, in connection with the death of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd in June. REUTERS/Brian Snyder