March 10, 2015 / 5:35 PM / 4 years ago

Valet: Saw ex-NFL star Hernandez with gun before slaying

FALL RIVER, Mass. (Reuters) - A parking valet supervisor testified on Tuesday he saw New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez with what appeared to be a gun tucked in his waistband outside a Boston hotel two nights before prosecutors say he murdered an associate.

Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez speaks with his attorney Charles Rankin during his murder trial at the Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, March 9, 2015. REUTERS/Aram Boghosian/Pool

Samson Michael said he was working at the W Boston hotel around 1:30 a.m. on June 15, 2013, when he saw Hernandez through the passenger side window of a black SUV parked outside the hotel.

“I noticed a gentleman with his shirt (pulled) up to his chest and what looks like a gun in his waistband,” he said, referring to Hernandez.

Shortly afterward, Hernandez drove several people including his babysitter and his alleged victim, semiprofessional football player Odin Lloyd, in the SUV to an apartment he rented in Franklin, Massachusetts, the babysitter testified this week.

Hernandez, 25, is on trial at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, on murder and firearms charges. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

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 his bullet-riddled body was found.

Wallace and Ortiz have also been charged with murder.

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Bomberg showed jurors a text message that prosecutors have said was sent by Hernandez to his fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, two days before the murder, referring to Lloyd and saying he had made a mistake.

“I didn’t mean to but got drunk ... and O took care of me an somehow tol him bout my other spot and I just woke up buggin im sorry and on way home,” the message read.

The “other spot” was a reference to the Franklin apartment, where police also discovered five boxes of .45-caliber cartridges during their investigation of the shooting.

Lloyd was killed with a .45-caliber handgun, but the weapon used in the murder has not been recovered.

Prosecutors say Hernandez can been seen in surveillance video taken at his North Attleborough home holding a gun in his hand, but defense attorneys have argued the video is unclear and that it could be something else, such as a TV remote.

Hernandez’s defense team has argued their client had no reason to kill Lloyd because the two were friends.

Editing by Scott Malone, Eric Beech and Eric Walsh

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