Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez pleaded not guilty to all charges against him on Friday. Hernandez, who was arrested in June for the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, is charged with one count of first-degree murder and five felony weapons charges.
Hernandez is being held without bail, but is expected to request it at his next court date on October 9 during a pretrial conference. The 23-year-old former Gators player was arrested after text messages, surveillance video and a search of his home connected him to Lloyd’s murder. Witnesses say that Odin was murdered because he spoke to someone Hernandez dislikes in a club.
Hernandez has maintained his innocence from the start, and his lawyer Charles Rankin doesn’t think the prosecution has enough evidence to convict his client of murder. "Not one shred of evidence has been presented yet and we feel confident that when evidence is finally presented in a court of law, Aaron will be exonerated," Rankin said during the arraignment. Rankin claims that there is no hard evidence against his client—only circumstantial.
"There’s a tremendous amount of evidence," Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter said. The prosecution says that bullet casings found in Hernandez’s vehicle matched those used to kill Lloyd. Between the home security footage and a cell phone Hernandez attempted to destroy, Sutter feels confident he can win his case. Sutter also plans to bring up Hernandez’s sketchy past during the trial, which allegedly includes drug use and violence.
While playing for the Gators during Tim Tebow’s reign, Hernandez was accused of busting another man’s eardrum in a bar fight. The fight occurred in 2007 when the former tight end was 17—he was never charged. Hernandez is also being investigated in connection to a double-homicide from 2012. Two men were shot to death in Boston after a confrontation with Hernandez in a club. The investigation into Hernandez for the Boston murders wasn't announced until after he was arrested for Lloyd’s death a year later.
If Hernandez is found guilty of first-degree murder, he faces life in prison with no chances of parole. There is no death penalty in Massachusetts, where he is charged.