FALL RIVER, Massachusetts (Reuters) - The sister of a man allegedly shot to death by former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez said on Monday she saw her brother get into a car outside their family’s Boston home shortly before he was killed.
Shaquilla Thibou, 21, said in Massachusetts Superior Court in Fall River that she was sitting in a parked car with her boyfriend in the early hours of June 17, 2013, when her brother, Odin Lloyd, got into the silver car before it sped away.
Prosecutors say Hernandez was driving the silver Nissan Altima that picked up Lloyd accompanied by two friends, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz. They say the men drove Lloyd, 27, to an industrial park near Hernandez’s house in North Attleborough, Massachusetts, where Lloyd’s body was found later that day.
“He walked toward the car and he attempted to get into the passenger seat,” she told prosecutor William McCauley, referring to Lloyd. “He stopped as if there was a reason he couldn’t get into the passenger seat... He got into the back passenger seat.”
She said she later received text messages from Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée.
She was not permitted to tell the jury the contents of the text messages because Associate Justice Susan Garsh had earlier ruled them inadmissible. Prosecutors had said in earlier hearings that the messages said, “Did you see who I‘m with,” “NFL” and “just so you know.”
Lloyd was shot multiple times and investigators found empty .45-caliber shell casings nearby, but they have not located the weapon used in the killing. A ballistics expert testified earlier the shells appeared to have been fired from the same Glock handgun.
Thibou testified that earlier that night Lloyd had been sitting in a black Chevrolet Suburban that prosecutors say was rented by Hernandez. Keys to the vehicle were found in Lloyd’s pocket after he was killed.
Also on Monday, prosecutor Patrick Bomberg questioned Justin Darrow, a Sprint Telecommunications radio frequency engineer, about the cell phone records of Ernest Wallace, Hernandez’s friend, for June 16-18, 2013.
The records showed Hernandez and Wallace repeatedly called each other around the time authorities say Lloyd was killed, and that Wallace called Lloyd several times before they allegedly picked him up. Cell tower data showed Wallace apparently driving between Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Hernandez, 25, faces murder and firearms charges and has pleaded not guilty. He had a $41 million contract with the New England Patriots when he was cut from the team after being charged with Lloyd’s murder in June 2013.
Ortiz and Wallace, who have also pleaded not guilty, will be tried separately.
Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Alan Crosby