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NFL's Aaron Hernandez Loses Appeal For Bail In Murder Case

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez will be held without bail on murder charges, a judge has confirmed. Here, Hernandez, left, stands with one his defense attorneys, Michael Fee, during his arraignment in Attleboro District Court Wednesday.
Mike George

NFL tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was charged with first-degree murder and weapons crimes Wednesday, will not be released on bail, the Fall River Superior Court has ruled. Hernandez, 23, was released by the New England Patriots within hours of his arrest yesterday.

While Hernandez's defense attorney, Jamie Sultan, said that releasing a murder suspect on bail was a possibility, the judge in the bail hearing replied that it was "very rare."

Hernandez is charged with murdering Odin Lloyd, 27, a semi-pro football player who died from gunshot wounds earlier this month.

After the defense and prosecution had laid out their arguments, the judge stated that if the allegations against Hernandez are true, she would not expect a bracelet tracking his movements to ensure his best behavior. She also noted that the evidence against Hernandez seems to be very strong.

As his attorney spoke, Hernandez looked on from the side of the courtroom, with few expressions showing on his face. Dressed in a blue corrections uniform, Hernandez's hands were cuffed in front of him. He lowered his head briefly when Sultan mentioned his fiancée and child.

The hearing to review the possibility of bail for Hernandez comes on the same day as The Boston Globe and other media outlets are reporting that the NFL star is also being investigated "in connection with a 2012 double murder in Boston."

Bristol County Assistant District Attorney Bill McCauley did not mention that possibility, but it may have been the subject of a sidebar, in which the attorneys spoke privately with the judge.

Speaking for the prosecution, McCauley said Hernandez had no standing to appeal to a superior court for bail on a murder charge after it had been already denied by a district court.

McCauley also reiterated investigators' findings at the scene where Lloyd's body was found, noting that five shell casings for a .45-caliber weapon were recovered. Stating that a Glock .45 pistol was found to be in Hernandez's possession, the prosecutor noted that the idiosyncratic rifling found on bullets recovered from the scene suggest they had been fired from a Glock.

The website TMZ recently posted an image that Hernandez seems to have taken with his cellphone, showing him holding up a Glock .45 in a mirror. It is unclear when the photo may have been taken.

Speaking for Hernandez, Sultan called him "a young man who is extremely hard-working," and he said that Hernandez wasn't a flight risk, noting that he grew up nearby and owns a home in the community. He also said that due to the nature of the case, Hernandez could face a long jail term as he awaits trial.

"I don't know if this case can be tried within a year," Sultan said, adding that Hernandez would suffer a "protracted loss of liberty" if he is held without bail.

Hernandez is being held in Bristol County House of Correction and Jail in North Dartmouth, Mass. If convicted on the charges leveled against him Wednesday, Hernandez could be sentenced to life in prison.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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