FALL RIVER, Mass. (Reuters) - Ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez’s fiancee said on Friday that he told her he did not murder the man he is charged with fatally shooting at an industrial park near their Massachusetts home in June 2013.
Shayanna Jenkins, 25, who was granted immunity after charges she initially lied to a grand jury investigating the case, told the judge and lawyers during a session without the jury present that she had spoken with Hernandez after she found out about the murder of semiprofessional football player Odin Lloyd.
“I asked him if he did it,” she said. “He said ‘no.'”
Hernandez, a former New England Patriots tight end, is on trial for fatally shooting Lloyd, who was dating Jenkins’ sister, Shaneah. Hernandez, who has pleaded not guilty, faces a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors contend Hernandez and two friends, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, picked up Lloyd at his Boston home in the early hours of June 17, 2013, and drove him to an industrial park near Hernandez’s house in North Attleborough, Massachusetts, where he was later found dead.
Lloyd, 27, was shot five times with a .45 caliber Glock handgun, investigators have said. The murder weapon has not been found.
After the session with the judge and lawyers, Jenkins testified before the jury in Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River that she had found a black gun in the house where she had moved with Hernandez and their 2-year-old daughter in late 2012.
Assistant District Attorney William McCauley held up a Glock in the courtroom, and Jenkins said it was similar in color and shape, but she was unsure how it compared in size.
Prosecutors earlier accused Jenkins of lying to a grand jury 29 times as it probed Lloyd’s murder, including falsely saying she did not know where she had disposed of a box Hernandez asked her to get rid of after the killing. She pleaded not guilty to the charges, but acknowledged on Friday she had taken steps to conceal the box.
Judge Susan Garsh approved a prosecutor’s request to grant Jenkins immunity in February. It was not clear what Jenkins agreed to in exchange.
Hernandez had a $41 million contract with the Patriots. He was dropped from the team after his arrest. His suspected accomplices, Wallace and Ortiz, have also been charged with murder and will be tried separately. They have pleaded not guilty.
Editing by Richard Valdmanis, Susan Heavey, G Crosse and Matthew Lewis