BOSTON (AP) — Hundreds of relatives, friends and teammates wept together and hugged Saturday at the funeral of a semi-pro football player whose killing led to murder and weapons charges against former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez.
The body of Odin Lloyd was found June 17 near Hernandez’s home. Police arrested Hernandez on Wednesday and charged him with orchestrating the execution-style shooting.
Lloyd played for the Boston Bandits and was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. Members of Lloyd’s team showed up for the funeral in their uniforms and chanted his name as pallbearers placed his casket in a hearse outside Church of the Holy Spirit in Boston’s Mattapan neighborhood. The crowd of mourners was so large that some could not find room inside the church for the two-hour service.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail. Two other men are also in custody. Prosecutors say the three were in a car with Lloyd shortly before his death.
Authorities have said trouble that led to Lloyd’s killing happened June 14, when Lloyd went with Hernandez to a Boston nightclub. Hernandez became upset when Lloyd began talking with people Hernandez apparently didn’t like, prosecutors said.
On June 16, the night before the slaying, a prosecutor said, Hernandez texted two unidentified friends and asked them to hurry to Massachusetts from Connecticut.
A few minutes later, he texted Lloyd to tell him he wanted to get together, prosecutors said. Authorities say Hernandez, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace picked up Lloyd at around 2:30 a.m. June 17, drove him to an industrial park near Hernandez’s home and shot him five times. They have not said who fired the shots.
Prosecutors said an ammunition clip found in Hernandez’s Hummer matched the caliber of casings found at the scene of Lloyd’s killing.
Hernandez’s lawyer argued in court that the case is circumstantial. He said Hernandez, who was cut by the Patriots the day he was arrested, wanted to clear his name.
Ortiz’s attorney, John Connors, said he will seek bail for his client at the July 9 hearing. He described Ortiz as a “gentle person” and said he will advise Ortiz to plead not guilty to the gun charge he is facing.
Wallace surrendered in Miramar, Fla., on Friday, police said. Authorities had been seeking Wallace on a charge of acting as an accessory after Lloyd’s murder. Details of that allegation weren’t released.
Hernandez was drafted by the Patriots in 2010 and signed a five-year contract worth $40 million last summer. He could face life in prison if convicted.