March 18, 2015 / 5:59 PM / 4 years ago

Trooper discusses footprints near ex-NFL star's alleged victim

FALL RIVER, Mass. (Reuters) - A shoe print found near the body of a man allegedly killed by Aaron Hernandez matched that of an Air Jordan sneaker the former New England Patriots player was photographed in, a Massachusetts State Police trooper testified on Wednesday.

Former NFL player Aaron Hernandez looks at the gallery during the murder trial at the Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, March 18, 2015. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter

Lieutenant Steven Bennett said the partial footwear impression was found in an industrial park near Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough, Massachusetts, where the body of Odin Lloyd, a semiprofessional football player, was found on June 17, 2013.

Hernandez, 25, has been charged with killing Lloyd, who had been dating his fiancée’s sister, and is on trial at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. He has pleaded not guilty.

A consultant for Nike Inc testified on Tuesday that Hernandez was wearing Nike Air Jordan XI Retro Low shoes in surveillance video taken at the former tight end’s house minutes after the murder.

On Wednesday, Bennett placed a transparency of a print made with the same type of shoe over a photograph of the crime scene print to show they matched.

“My opinion was that it was similar,” said Bennett, who added that it was “consistent with the Retro XI size 13 Air Jordan.”

Prosecutor William McCauley earlier showed him photos of the shoe print and others found near tire tracks in soft dirt about 30 to 50 feet (9 to 15 meters) from where Lloyd’s bullet-riddled body was found.

Bennett also explained how he used photographs of the shoes of investigators, witnesses and the victim to differentiate their prints from those of possible suspects.

He acknowledged under questioning that investigators were unable to find three pairs of shoes - those worn by Hernandez and two suspected accomplices - during a second search of the former NFL star’s home. The shoes had been photographed at the house during an initial search months earlier.

Prosecutors contend Hernandez and two friends, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, picked up Lloyd, 27, at his Boston home in the early hours of June 17, 2013, and drove him to the industrial park.

Wallace and Ortiz also face murder charges and will be tried separately. They have also pleaded not guilty.

Hernandez had a $41 million contract with the New England Patriots when he was dropped from the team shortly after being arrested and charged with Lloyd’s murder in June 2013.

Reporting by Daniel Lovering; Editing by Scott Malone and Eric Beech

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