January 2, 2015 / 7:18 PM / 4 years ago

New prosecutor to oversee ex-NFLer Hernandez' murder trial

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez attends a pre-trial hearing in Fall River, Massachusetts December 22, 2014. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

BOSTON (Reuters) - Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on Friday named a new district attorney to the Bristol County office that will prosecute the upcoming murder trial of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Thomas Quinn, who had been the county’s first assistant district attorney, was promoted to acting district attorney, succeeding Sam Sutter, who resigned after being elected mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts, Patrick said.

“I am making this appointment now to assure the stability of the critical work of the office and fully respect the authority of the incoming Governor to make his own appointment in due course,” said Patrick, a Democrat, who will pass the reins to Republican Charlie Baker on Jan. 8.

Quinn, a 16-year-veteran of the office, steps into its top job a week before jury selection is due to begin for the murder trail of Hernandez, who had been a rising star in the NFL with a $40 million contract when he was arrested in June 2013 and charged with killing semiprofessional football player Odin Lloyd.

He is due to face trial on that charge and related firearms charges at a proceeding to begin in state court in Fall River this month.

Hernandez, who has pleaded not guilty, has also been charged with shooting two men to death outside a Boston nightclub in 2012 after a dispute about a mixed drink. He will face a separate trial on those charges in Boston later this year.

Reporting by Scott Malone; editing by Andrew Hay

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