Ex-NFL star bought drinks, smoked pot before murder: witness

Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:04pm EST
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By Daniel Lovering

FALL RIVER, Mass. (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez smoked marijuana and bought food and drinks for friends at a Rhode Island restaurant hours before prosecutors say he fatally shot an acquaintance, a witness testified on Thursday.

Kelly Rose Belanger, former manager of the South Street Cafe in Providence, said Hernandez arrived at the restaurant with a woman and other people around 9:30 p.m. on June 16, 2013, and at one point stepped out to smoke marijuana with another man.

"I asked them to put it out because the other customers could smell it, and they did," Belanger said at Massachusetts Superior Court in Hernandez's trial on charges of murdering Odin Lloyd, a man who was dating his fiancée's sister.

Hernandez used his credit card to pay for items including 30 chicken wings, 10 "Sex on the Beach" cocktails, 11 Hennessey cognacs and two orders of baked stuffed shrimp, she said, referring to a copy of the receipt shown in court.

The check was closed after midnight on June 17, 2013, Belanger said, and Hernandez paid a total of $273.45, including a $30 tip, before leaving.

Prosecutors contend Hernandez killed Lloyd, a semiprofessional football player, hours later. Lloyd's bullet-riddled body was found later that day at an industrial park near Hernandez's house in North Attleborough, Massachusetts.

Hernandez, 25, had a $41 million contract with the Patriots when he was released by the National Football League team shortly after being arrested and charged with murder and various firearms violations in June 2013. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted.

According to prosecutors, Hernandez and two friends, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, picked up Lloyd at his Boston home and drove him to the industrial park where his body was later discovered by a jogger.   Continued...

Aaron Hernandez (L) sits beside his attorney Charles Rankin as a group photo including him is shown during his murder trial at the Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, February 25, 2015.  REUTERS/Aram Boghosian/Pool