Massachusetts detectives in one of Aaron Hernandez's murder cases have interviewed New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, owner Robert Kraft and other team employees as part of the yearlong probe.
Their statements — along with text messages between Belichick and Hernandez in the four months before the shooting — are referenced in new court filings listing evidence that prosecutors have collected in the Odin Lloyd murder investigation and turned over to defense attorneys in advance of the trial.
The former Patriots tight end was released from the team hours after he was charged in Lloyd's June 2013 slaying. He faces two more murder counts in a July 2012 drive-by shooting in Boston.
Evidence in the Lloyd case includes 33 pages of text messages between Belichick and Hernandez, from February 2013 to May 2013. For several weeks during that time, Hernandez was staying in Hermosa Beach, Calif., for offseason training and injury rehabilitation. The court filings do not include the content of the text messages.
The texts start the same month that the former NFL star is accused in another shooting. East Hartford native Alexander Bradley, a key witness for the government in the Boston double homicide, claims in a civil lawsuit that Hernandez shot him in the eye and left him to die after an argument at a Florida nightclub on Feb. 13.
Bradley is among the more than 100 witnesses, including dozens of Connecticut natives, who were interviewed by authorities building the government's case against Hernandez. The other Patriots employees interviewed include director of football Berj Najarian, director of player personnel Nicholas Caserio and strength coaches Harold Nash and Moses Cabrera.
Other evidence includes rental contracts for dozens of vehicles, dating to 2011. Hernandez's habit of renting cars previously has been relevant to his legal troubles, as authorities say he returned the Nissan Altima that he drove the night of Lloyd's death to the rental company the day after the shooting and swapped it for a different car that his two alleged accomplices used to drive back to Connecticut. Boston authorities have said in court that he rented a car the day after the double slaying.
Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, both of Bristol, Conn., also are charged with murder in Lloyd's death. Bristol County Assistant District Attorney William McCauley said in the new court filings that a white towel was found at the crime scene. Ortiz was seen wearing a white towel earlier in the night, McCauley said.
Prosecutors have said in court that the night before Lloyd's 3 a.m. shooting death, Hernandez sent a series of texts to Wallace asking him to drive up to Massachusetts. At the same time, prosecutors say, he was texting Lloyd to make plans. A judge ruled Monday that the prosecution may use those texts in its case against Hernandez.
Fall River Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh also denied a motion to suppress evidence collected from the phone that Hernandez used to text Lloyd and Wallace before the shooting. Defense lawyers, challenging whether the government had the authority to search and seize Hernandez's phone, home surveillance system records, and other electronics in his North Attleboro, Mass., home, had asked the court to toss out evidence from some of those searches that occurred early in the investigation.
With respect to the phone, Garsh wrote that the search warrant affidavit "provided probable cause to believe that Hernandez's cell phone would aid in the apprehension or conviction of Lloyd's killer."
She refused to suppress evidence obtained from video surveillance inside Hernandez's home. Surveillance footage photos show Hernandez holding a gun inside the house shortly after his car was seen leaving the nearby park where Lloyd's body was found.
Defense attorneys had argued that police did not have the authority to view footage from inside the home, but Garsh wrote that both indoor and outdoor surveillance records were "justified by the likelihood that it would reveal the identities of the individuals with Hernandez and Lloyd in the rental vehicle and provide a timeline of their movements."