NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. – Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has been charged with murder in the death of 27-year-old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, who was found shot execution-style about a half-mile from Hernandez’s home.
Hernandez appeared in a packed courtroom number one at Attleboro District Court, where he faces six charges, the most significant being murder. Hernandez also faces charges of possessing a firearm without a license, possessing a large capacity firearm and a firearm without an ID card.
Hernandez was arrested at his home at 8:47 a.m. ET by North Attleborough police and spent five hours in custody before arriving for his arraignment shortly before 2 p.m.
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Lloyd’s body was found on June 17 in an industrial park by a nighttime jogger, about a half-mile from Hernandez’s home. Police ruled the death a homicide, and Lloyd’s family members said Lloyd, who was shot in the head, and Hernandez were friends who had been together the previous day.
Just hours after the arrest, the New England Patriots announced in a statement that the team had released Hernandez.
“A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss,” the team said in a statement. “Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation. We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.”
The Patriots were aware of prior troubles in Hernandez’s past before drafting him in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of the University of Florida.
After the draft, the Boston Globe reported Hernandez had failed multiple drug tests, perhaps as many as six, while at Florida, which led Hernandez to issue a statement admitting to the one failed test that led to a suspension from the school’s 2008 season opener.
In that statement, which was released through the Patriots, Hernandez said he was as candid as he could possibly be with NFL teams about football and his personal life.
“I regret what happened; I learned from it and will make better decisions going forward,” Hernandez said in that 2010 statement.
The Patriots twice decided Hernandez was worth the risk, first when Bill Belichick drafted him in the fourth round and again last year when they offered Hernandez a long-term contract extension that would pay him $40 million through 2018.
Hernandez cried at a news conference announcing the deal and called that August day one of the best of his life. He gave $50,000 of his new paycheck to the Myra Kraft Foundation.
“You get changed by the Bill Belichick way; you get changed by the Patriot way,” Hernandez said at that news conference.
In addition to the criminal charges, Hernandez is also the subject of a civil complaint filed this month in a U.S. District Court in South Florida by a Connecticut man. In the complaint filed by attorneys for 30-year-old Alexander S. Bradley, Hernandez is accused of shooting Bradley in the face while the two were in a vehicle early Feb. 13 after a night of partying at a strip club in Miami.