Hernandez back in court for final pretrial hearing
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) The murder trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez is expected to take six to 10 weeks, prosecutors said Monday.
Hernandez was in Bristol County Superior Court for one of his final hearings before his January trial in the 2013 killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd in an industrial park near Hernandez's North Attleborough home.
Dressed in a dark blazer, Hernandez sat silently during the hearing. He answered ''yes'' to a series of questions regarding jury selection and other trial procedures posed by Judge E. Susan Garsh.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to Lloyd's murder. He has also pleaded not guilty to the fatal shootings of two men in 2012 after an encounter at a Boston nightclub.
Hernandez's final pre-trial hearing in the Lloyd slaying has been scheduled for Jan. 6 in Bristol County Superior Court. Jury selection begins Jan. 9.
Lloyd's family was in attendance Monday. Hernandez's fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, who had a hearing in the courtroom earlier, also briefly observed the proceeding. She has pleaded not guilty to lying before a grand jury that ultimately indicted Hernandez.
Prosecutors said they expect jury selection to take until about Jan. 20. They said they would call about 45 witnesses during the trial.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft were among those named on a list of roughly 300 potential witnesses submitted by prosecutors Monday.
Hernandez attorney Michael Fee, saying he was concerned possible jurors may be familiar with Hernandez's other alleged crimes, sought asked to question potential jurors individually during the selection process in court, as well as the right to reject up to 30 jurors without necessarily stating a reason. The judge denied both requests.
Heading into jury selection, the prosecution and defense have submitted some 70 questions that they want asked of potential jurors.
On Monday, Garsh struck some of those questions, which have not been made public, and questioned lawyers about others in an extended private conference.
The judge ruled earlier this month that prosecutors cannot talk about the Boston killings, which prosecutors suggest may have been part of Hernandez's motivation for killing Lloyd.
In addition, she has ruled that prosecutors cannot introduce the shooting of Alexander Bradley, a former Hernandez associate who has filed a lawsuit claiming the ex-player shot him in the face after an argument in Florida in 2013.
Also Monday, Garsh allowed for the return of one of Hernandez's vehicles - a Hummer - which had been seized as evidence during the investigation.
State police still have in their possession a rented Nissan Altima that prosecutors allege was used by Hernandez and two other men in Lloyd's killing.
That car tops a list of 32 exhibits, ranging from prison phone records to ballistic reports and surveillance video, that prosecutors filed with the court Monday.