Lawyers for former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez were granted a request to let them question a woman who called and claimed that one of the jurors who helped convict their client of murder earlier this year may have lied during jury selection, according to multiple reports.
Judge E. Susan Garsh, who presided over Hernandez's trial, ruled earlier this month that phone company Verizon can be subpoenaed to help identity the woman and said that lawyers showed enough good cause to question the tipster. Prosecutors have until Friday to respond to the motion.
Hernandez was found guilty in April of first-degree murder in the death of 27-year-old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins. He received an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole and was also found guilty of multiple weapons charges. He is appealing the conviction.
Hernandez’s lawyer, James Sultan, says he has identified the tipster, but the woman’s name is redacted in court documents released on Tuesday. Sultan said the anonymous woman has had “extensive personal contact” with Hernandez since the 2013 killing of Lloyd. The woman's identity will not be released until the completion of a new investigation.
"That contact is clearly relevant to this individual's credibility. Nevertheless, there is reason to believe that this individual likely possesses information relevant to whether a juror was exposed to prejudicial, extrinsic information," Sultan wrote in the filings.
Sultan also has said that the woman contacted him from a blocked number just days after Hernandez was convicted of murder and claimed the juror in question discussed Hernandez’s connection to a 2012 Boston double homicide after recognizing the juror from TV. The jury was not told about that case during the 41-day Lloyd trial.
Hernandez is also charged separately with two counts of murder, three counts of assault with intent to commit murder and a weapons charge in the deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. Authorities say Hernandez shot the men after one of them bumped into him at a nightclub and caused him to spill his drink. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.
Last week, a transcript released accused former juror Cheryle Chodkowski of violating numerous court orders and lying to the court after telling co-workers about the case after she was dismissed from the trial.
Chodkowski denies the charges, telling a local TV station, “There’s two sides to every story, and the truth is somewhere in between.”
- Scooby Axson