February 13, 2015 / 6:43 PM / 3 years ago

Police say found bullets, gun near ex-NFL star's alleged victim

FALL RIVER, Mass. (Reuters) - Massachusetts State Police troopers found two bullets and a .22-caliber handgun near the body of a man prosecutors say former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez killed in June 2013, the officers testified on Friday.

Former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez sits with his attorney Charles Rankin during his murder trial at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts February 11, 2015. REUTERS/Ted Fitzgerald

Sergeant Kevin Halle said he excavated soil in an industrial park where the body of Odin Lloyd, a semiprofessional football player, was found on June 17, 2013, and discovered two projectiles near a patch of dirt marked by a red-brown stain.

“I was screening the material to be taken out and, looking at the screen, there was a projectile,” he told jurors in the Massachusetts Superior Court trial in Fall River. Prosecutors showed photos of the bullets in court.

Investigators earlier testified that they found empty .45-caliber shell casings around Lloyd’s body at the industrial park in North Attleborough, Massachusetts.

Another state trooper, Steven Gallagher, said he and fellow officers found a .22-caliber black-and-silver pistol while searching a wet, wooded area near a road a short distance from where Lloyd’s body was discovered by a teenage jogger.

Hernandez, who lived nearby, has been charged with murdering Lloyd, 27, who was dating his fiancée’s sister, Shaneah Jenkins, at the time. Jenkins has testified that the two were in the early stages of a friendship and sometimes smoked marijuana together.

Hernandez, 25, had a $41 million contract with the New England Patriots when he was dropped from the team after his arrest on murder and firearms charges.

If convicted, Hernandez could draw a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors contend that Hernandez and two friends, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, picked up Lloyd at his Boston home on June 17, 2013, and drove him to the industrial park where his body was found later that day. The gun used in the killing has not been found.

Wallace and Ortiz have also been charged in Lloyd’s death and will be tried separately. All three have pleaded not guilty.

Earlier on Friday, Associate Justice Susan Garsh ruled that jurors will be allowed to watch surveillance video of Hernandez sitting in a car with one of his lawyers at a North Attleborough police station a day after Lloyd’s death.

According to prosecutor William McCauley, the video shows Hernandez dismantling his phone and using his attorney’s phone to make calls to Wallace.

Hernandez will face a second trial later this year on charges he killed two Cape Verdean men outside a Boston nightclub in 2012.

Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis

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