FALL RIVER, Massachusetts (Reuters) - The judge in Aaron Hernandez’s murder trial ruled on Wednesday that jurors will not be allowed to hear about a former friend of the ex-NFL star who claimed Hernandez shot him in the face after an argument in Florida in 2013.
Associate Justice Susan Garsh denied a renewed request by prosecutors to allow evidence related to the shooting of Alexander Bradley, who filed a civil lawsuit against Hernandez, saying the incident was “quite different.”
Prosecutors had argued the Florida shooting case refuted the defense team’s assertion that Hernandez would never have shot the alleged victim in this case, Odin Lloyd, because the two were friends. Lloyd, 27, was found shot to death in June 2013 in an industrial park near Hernandez’s home in North Attleboro, Massachusetts.
Christina Hanley, a forensic scientist at a Massachusetts State Police crime laboratory, testified that fibers found on bullets from the crime scene appeared to be the same as those from pieces of Lloyd’s clothing, including a plaid shirt, a gray tank top and a blue hooded sweatshirt. She said she examined samples of both at a microscopic level.
Lloyd was a semi-professional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée. His girlfriend has testified the two were not close but were in the early stages of a friendship and smoked marijuana together.
On Wednesday, Bristol County Assistant District Attorney William McCauley said defense attorneys had indicated 32 times the nature of the relationship between the two men, and “constantly referred to them as being friends.”
Defense attorney James Sultan said the motion to allow prosecutors to introduce evidence about the Florida case was “frivolous,” and that prosecutors were essentially arguing Hernandez has “a propensity to shoot his friends.”
Bradley filed a civil lawsuit in June last year against Hernandez, who he said shot him in the face in Florida in February 2013 after a late-night dispute. Bradley, who lost his right eye, never filed criminal charges.
Garsh said the motive and timing of the Florida incident were “quite different.”
Prosecutors say the 25-year-old former tight end and two friends, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, picked up Lloyd at his Boston home and drove him to the North Attleboro industrial park.
Lloyd was shot multiple times, and investigators found several empty shell casings from a .45 handgun nearby. They found a similar shell casing that had been removed from a car rented by Hernandez. The weapon has not been found.
Wallace and Ortiz, who also face murder charges, will be tried separately. Prosecutors have said Hernandez orchestrated the murder. All three men have pleaded not guilty.
Hernandez had a $41 million contract with the New England Patriots. He was cut from the team following his arrest.
Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Alan Crosby